Ahead of World Mental Health Day, there is a growing need for employers to make positive mental health a top priority

mental health issues

In light of World Mental Health Day, different research has shown that employers need to do more in order to remove the stigma surrounding mental health issues. Organisations need to be encouraged to make mental health a top priority by educating their staff and encouraging discussion.

According to the NHS, mental health issues currently cost the UK around £105bn a year. In addition to this, a survey by CIPD Absence Management in 2015 found that just over two-fifths of organisations have noticed an increase in reported mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) among employees in the past 12 months. The survey also revealed that average annual sick pay cost per employee is £554 a year.

These figures have demonstrating the increasing issue that mental health is having on employees and organisations. Morag Livingston, group risk and healthcare manager at Secondsight, says: 'Mental health in the workplace is firmly on the agenda. But given the mounting evidence that employers are still not addressing, in general, the issues adequately enough and that this lack of attention can affect performance and profit margins, we're keen to see it at the top of the agenda.”

Research into the attitudes and experiences of British workers by AXA PPP healthcare reveals that over half (52%) of the workers polled admit to having faced financial difficulties while around a third say they’ve lived with mental ill health (36%) or had problems with their physical health (30%).

Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services for AXA PPP healthcare, comments: “Being afraid to open up about personal problems – whether they’re work related or not – can seriously affect employee wellbeing. Mood, productivity and engagement can all be disrupted. To help to address this, it’s important for the organisation’s leadership to promote a positive, supportive workplace culture where employees are encouraged to speak up and seek support for the challenges that are proving difficult to overcome.

“It’s also important for employers to ensure that line managers are suitably trained and supported to recognise and help employees when they’re struggling to cope. If employees appear withdrawn, downbeat or are behaving out of character, managers need to take the lead on engaging with them in an appropriately professional and supportive manner to better understand what’s troubling them and guide them to suitable support.”