You could be forgiven for thinking that we live in a time of transparency, where mental illness is

openly discussed and co-workers are comfortable sharing their innermost worries with their
colleagues.

Sure, progress has been made –

Many have become more outspoken in the media, airing their struggles in the hopes of encouraging others to feel accepted. But what does that mean for you and your workforce?

While the tides of perception are turning, change is coming all too slowly for those that suffer with anxiety, stress and other depressive disorders; with many secretly harbouring workplace fears. As far as the general populace is concerned, discrimination and stigma still prevents many from discussing their illnesses – and the antiquated belief that admitting to having a mental illness will damage your career STILL holds true.

“71% of people wish to conceal their diagnosis of depression from others”
(Source: The Lancet Study)

Running the risk of being perceived as weaker, unstable or less able than your office
counterparts can culminate in fears of being shunned, penalised with fewer responsibilities and
stripped of opportunity to progress in the workplace.

And yet – with as many as 1 in 4 UK citizens experiencing a mental health problem each year (Source: NHS) – we continue to trivialise the subject.

Anchored by feelings of isolation, insecurity and stress, employees instead choose to suppress
their needs, supplanting often nonexistent workplace supports with increased sick leave and
decreased productivity.

When an employee feels that their work isn’t worthwhile or doesn’t make a difference, that
uncertainty can lead to further negative self-reflection – especially when it goes unnoticed to their employers. This level of discontent can force an employee to take steps towards making a discrimination claim against you, as they feel like they have no other options.

Your staff is your most valuable resource. You need to consider their individual needs in order to bolster their wellbeing and performance, and prevent a litigation suit for your business. The first step is to develop a solid foundation; encourage a culture of transparency amongst employees, focusing on support and teamwork.

Start small, just start.

You don’t need to be an expert on wellness to start making positive changes to working conditions. Simply observing your staff and being aware of possible sources of dissatisfaction can make a noticeable difference to those that are struggling.

To build a positive working environment, start by…

Outlining individual employee goals and helping them to achieve them
Encouraging employees to take ownership of their work
Promoting face-to-face communication and teamwork

Making small, incremental improvements to sustain an environment of high performance, can
positively influence your employees’ health and happiness both at work and in their everyday lives.

Combat the mental health stigma today and make yours a workplace of wellbeing to, in turn,
impact your business’ productivity and bottom line.

——————————————————
SPOT THE SIGNS…

As an employer, it’s your duty to be aware of any disorders among employees, and to be informed on how to minimise the risk of potential claims.