It has recently been announced that 300,000 people in the UK leave their job for mental health purposes each year.
Whilst this alone appears to be a staggering statistic, research also demonstrates that almost 12.7 per cent of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions. It is therefore crucial that employers address the topic of mental illness within the workplace, both for the benefit of the sufferer and reciprocally their organisation.
The steps which may be taken to assist an employee suffering from mental health related problems are limitless, however experts from DYWAJ have outlined five fundamental things an employer can do to tackle mental illness within the workplace.
Outline the job description in detail:
The steps an employer can take to tackle mental health begin before an employee is hired. The employer should focus on whether a job applicant has the appropriate skills and experience to carry out the role and cope with it’s demands; realistic information should be given at interview, as well as any negatives associated with the position such as intensive work periods or tight deadlines. Employers must also be aware that employees are not obliged to disclose a history of mental illness at interview, therefore establishing their suitability in this way is the most efficient means of ensuring an individual is selected who can flourish within the position.
Reduce the stigma:
Put mental health on meeting agendas, newsletters, and hold informative events.
It is critical to raise awareness and familiarity with mental illness so that the stigma is reduced within the work place; ensure employees are aware that insensitive comments will not be tolerated and use external resources, such as leaflets that can be made accessible.
Remain vigilant and observe employees’ changes:
Mental health is a complex, largely misunderstood topic; symptoms are not always obvious and in reality most cases of mental illness go undetected, particularly with regards to disorders such as depression and anxiety. It is common for sufferers to generalise and underestimate their symptoms, or hide them from others entirely. As a consequence, it is important that employers remain proactive, observant and knowledgeable; lateness, changes in mood, work performance, a dishevelled appearance, or misplaced euphoria may all be indicators of mental illness.
Employers may fear they are being intrusive or overstepping the mark, however noticing symptoms early can make a significant difference.
Step in early and demonstrate you care, suggesting reasonable adjustments:
It is vital that once these signs are noticed, the employer responds efficiently and does not wait until the behaviours begin to affect their colleagues. It may be the case that with some support, rapid progress can be made; employers should encourage open, honest conversations and make suggestive referrals – not demands. Maybe a decrease in hours will benefit them, or some time off entirely, allow time to plan this, having regular conversations with all staff will make you as an employer approachable and make the situation as manageable as possible. It is also proven to be beneficial for employers to adjust back to work plans if an employee does decide to seek help and take time out; such as a phased or therapeutic return, which allows the member of staff to make links with the workplace prior to their return.
If necessary, find the best possible candidate to support or step in for the employee:
Plan someone to come in for an internship, or maybe have a couple of people in for some work experience. Otherwise there are always people looking for some temporary work, any of these will be able to take some of the extra workload while your employee is recovering.
Making the most of platforms such as DYWAJ, an online CV database will alleviate much of the stress which comes with the pressure of hiring new talent, particularly when handling sensitive cases involving mental illness.