Managing Mental Health at Work

Posted by Sarah Rawlings on 26/03/2019

By Sarah Rawlings, Head of Customer Services

Taking time out from the daily 9-5 to attend training can often be a challenge when we are under pressure from deadlines, so when you do attend a course that really delivers, it can feel like such a good investment.

When I was recently asked if I wanted to attend a one day course that the charity MIND were running for Simplyhealth Professionals on ‘Managing Mental Health at Work’ I was conflicted… On the one hand, this is absolutely the sort of training that I and my entire management team need to know about, yet on the other… could I afford the time out from a busy schedule?

I am pleased to say that I absolutely made the right decision and opted for the training. And what a great use of my time.

The course I attended increases awareness of mental health problems and the challenges they can present in the workplace, and left me and my colleagues feeling much more confident in how to manage and work alongside colleagues who are experiencing mental distress.

MIND acknowledges that all managers will at some point find themselves in the position of having to have difficult conversations with the people they line manage. Concerns about performance or capability can coincide with the person experiencing mental distress or disclosing a mental health problem. In these circumstances, it’s vital that managers feel confident and empowered to broach difficult issues, so that they can be supportively dealt with and promptly resolved.

MIND state that although stress, anxiety and depression are part of working life for many people, the organisational, economic and personal effects of these difficulties have only been fully acknowledged and researched in recent years so we need to be equipped to deal with this and provide the appropriate support for our teams.

Not only is this a distressing condition for employees to cope with, it can be extremely costly and disruptive for companies if not managed properly. According to the Office of National Statistics Labour Force Survey in 2017/18, 15.4 million working days were lost due to work-related stress, depression or anxiety.

One of the main problems that we face in the workplace is that although we are all aware that mental health is an increasingly real problem for many staff, it is often still seen as a taboo subject or one that could affect career opportunities so people remain quiet while they are struggling. The resulting fall-out can then be even more damaging if an individual ends up signed off with long-term stress or leaving the company due to ill health and we lose valuable skills and knowledge.

Fear of talking about mental health at work is highlighted in a recent report which said only 16% of respondents had discussed a recent episode of mental ill health with their line manager, and only half said that they would speak with their line manager about their mental health”. (Mental Health at Work Report: National Employee Mental Well-being survey, Business in the Community 2018).

For me, just being able to attend a session purely designed to talk about mental health at work and give people the quality time they may need to open-up, is a great positive step to get the right conversations started and something that we need to continue to discuss.

After all, if you don’t know what someone is dealing with every day, how can you be sure that you are supporting them fully?

Simplyhealth Professionals in-house Academy training team run a course for dental practices to help ‘Make your practice mental health friendly’. For more information about our Academy and the training on offer, visit The Academy