The theme of this year's Mental Health Awareness Week is anxiety, one of the leading causes of mental ill-health in the world.
We will all undoubtedly experience some form of anxiety in our lives for one reason or another, but in a recent YouGov survey, 56% of people said they are more anxious than they were five years ago. Occasional anxiety can be motivational, but a source of constant anxiety has the potential to spill over into longer term mental health issues if left unchecked.
The CIPD has urged businesses to engage with this issue by taking proactive steps to deal with stress in the workplace.
A common assumption is that mental health problems are just caused by home issues, so some employers feel it is not appropriate - or indeed their responsibility - to intervene and support staff. In fact, in most cases, people's mental health problems are a combination of problems they face at work and outside work.
What what should managers do when an employee reports feelings of stress?
Look out for the signs: The first sign that someone may have depression or a problem with their mental health is often in changes to their day-to-day behaviour. Look out for these signs as a potential warning that someone may be suffering the early stages of depression.
Arrange a meeting: Take the time to listen to the employee and note the issues of concern and undertake a risk assessment. Depression can sometimes be caused because of a work issue or a personal one. If it's work-related, then you have the responsibility to help resolve it. If it's a home issue, then you can try and implement changes to make their working life easier, such as flexible working or point them in the right direction towards help from their GP or a counsellor.
Comfortable working environment: Your long term aim should be to create a working environment which eradicates the stigma mental health can carry. You can also make support options available, like employment assistance programme or access to occupational health. It is good practice to have an effective Mental Health and Stress Policy in place outlining how mental health issues and stress will be managed and the support available to employees.
Health and Safety Executive management standards indicator tool: The CIPD has launched a free stress management tool, developed with the HSE, which is designed to help equip managers with the skills to positively manage and prevent stress in their staff. The tool is available on the Employee Health and Wellbeing website and is designed to hold up a mirror to managers so they understand how their behaviour impacts on the people they manage - and provides on-line learning materials to help them improve their management style.
Training: Train management and staff and teach them to handle things sensitively. Employers should always be alert to the fact that certain mental impairments will amount to a disability for the purposes of Equality legislation, imposing a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments for the employee. Managers should be trained to identify when an employee is suffering from such a disability and to assess what reasonable adjustments can and should be made. Such adjustments will vary from employer to employer depending on factors such as size and resources, but may include things like workloads, workstations or working hours/patterns.
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Taylors offers courses on Managing Stress and Mental Health in the Workplace which can be delivered in-house and tailored to suit the needs of your organisation. Please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0844 8000 263 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in learning more.