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Mental health in the work place

Is your workplace culture contributing to the ‘psychological harm’ of your employees? It sounds dramatic but a survey of 4000 employees commissioned by Business in the Community (BITC) and Mercer Marsh Benefits suggests that employers aren’t doing enough to address the effect of work on employees’ mental health.

Getting top billing for their negative effect on mental health are excessive targets, having to work overtime due to workload, and feeling unsupported. Managers talked about barriers to providing mental health support with more than half of managers putting business needs above employee wellbeing. Almost half of managers weren’t assessed on how they managed employee wellbeing.

The message coming from BITC is that employers aren’t making the changes necessary to improve employees’ mental health. Mental health awareness has risen dramatically and a cultural shift is required to keep up. The report says three key areas to address are creating good work which enhances mental health, acknowledging and supporting poor mental health and publicly reporting on staff wellbeing performance.

This kind of cultural change needs more than new policies to specifically address the issue. Managers need to recognise and reward empathy and compassion. They in turn should be judged on their employees’ wellbeing and the promotion of good mental health. Most influence comes from the top. Business leaders need to consistently practice what they preach and role model behaviour which promotes good mental health. They need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk.

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