The importance of mental health in the workplace

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Information provided courtesy of Cortech Developments Ltd

Ensuring employees are mentally well is beneficial for a company and for workers, both at work and in all other aspects of their lives.

According to the UK mental health charity Mind, at any one time, at least one in six workers are experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression.

Figures from the UK Workplace Well-being Study have shown that mental health will be the second biggest challenge set to face employers within the next five years. Poor mental health costs employers an estimated £26 billion per year, due to workplace absences linked directly to mental ill health. By increasing awareness of mental health in the workplace and society, we can all start to break the stigma and build a more open and inclusive culture.

As well as affecting an employee’s judgement, ability to work with others, and productivity, mental health problems such as anxiety and depression can lead to an inability to fully concentrate, which often causes costly mistakes or accidents in the workplace.

The vast majority of people who suffer mental health problems can recover, or at the very least learn to live with them, especially if they get help early on. There is a wide scope of diagnoses that clinicians use to classify symptoms into groups.

A few common mental health issues are:

  • stress (whilst not classed as a medical condition, it can still have a serious impact on well-being and is the cause of many lost work hours in the west)
  • depression
  • anxiety

Less common conditions include:

  • bipolar disorder
  • schizophrenia

In contrast to this, good mental health works as an asset to a business, helping employees to thrive. Businesses should not only aim to reduce mental health problems, but also encourage positive mental health throughout the whole organisation.

Employers you have a ‘duty of care’ to your employees. This means not only that they are physically safe; within the working environment, and are protected from discrimination, but also that their mental well-being is considered. Also, a mental health issue can be considered a disability under the law and employers must be vigilant not to discriminate against an employee because of their disability.

At Cortech we believe employers have an essential role to play in supporting employees with education about mental health and creating an open dialogue. Providing resources that promote awareness can help create an accessible and positive workplace, one that fosters engagement and attracts talent.

Therefore, we are delighted to announce that Karen Churchill, Account Manager for Cortech, has just been appointed as our Mental Health First Aid Responder, following her successful completion of the FutureQuals Level 2 Award in Mental Health: Workplace Responder qualification.

Karen recently enrolled on the course, which is led by St John Ambulance, to gain an understanding of mental health issues that can affect individuals at work. The course covers the nature of mental health conditions and mental health episodes and the roles, responsibilities, legislation, and best practices relating to managing mental health in the workplace.

The role of a Mental Health First Aid Responder is to act as the first point of contact, providing support and guidance to their colleagues. As well as being someone to talk to whenever they are struggling, they will also act as an advocate for mental health in the workplace, helping to reduce stigma and enact positive change.

Commenting on the qualification, Karen said “I would like to thank Cortech for their support. I was keen to attend this training course as I believe every organisation should aim to create a supportive and positive culture where it is understood that everyone needs to look after their mental health and wellbeing in the same way that we look after our physical health.”

To find out more about the course you can visit the St John Ambulance website.