It’s good to talk?
Earlier this year, it was announced that Ruby Wax would be awarded an OBE for her services to mental health. She is a patron for the British Neuroscience Association and a long-standing campaigner on mental health issues and has a written a book on the subject.
So it was surprising to read recently that, in Ruby Wax’s view, people with a mental health problem should not tell their bosses about it because of the stigma that is associated with mental health issues and the discrimination that can arise.
The CIPD Absence Management Survey 2014 shows a fall in the average level of employee absence from 7.6 days in 2013 to 6.6 days per employee per year. However, there has been an increase in stress and mental health problems. Stress is a major cause of long-term absence at work and 56% of public sector organisations reported that stress-related absence has increased compared to 33% in the private sector. In relation to mental health, 43% of organisations reported an increase in mental health problems and larger organisations are more likely to report increases. Further, the Alzheimer’s Society recently reported that 40,000 of the 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia are under the age of 65. It estimates that by 2021, one million people will be suffering from dementia and many will develop the condition during the course of their employment.
One of the key ways of managing mental health in the workplace is to create a culture where people feel able to talk about their conditions. In turn, this will raise awareness of the issues and the opportunity to put in place meaningful support. But don’t forget the pressure and strain of being the partner or carer of someone with mental health issues. More awareness of their circumstances will ensure that those members of staff are properly supported too.
At our September Employment Clubs we will be looking at the impact of mental health in the workplace and how to tackle the stigma around mental health. We will also consider how to manage organisational change. Click on the link to view details of our Employment Clubs.
In the meantime, we would be interested to find out more about your organisation’s experiences of mental health and how this has been managed. If you have a few moments perhaps you could complete our confidential survey. Many thanks.