April is Stress Awareness Month, an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness about the impact of stress on mental health and wellbeing. In support of this effort, the HSE’s Working Minds campaign is highlighting the importance of promoting positive mental health in the workplace throughout the year. According to Liz Goodwill, head of the work-related stress and mental health policy team at HSE, Stress Awareness Month is an opportunity for employers to check in and support their staff’s mental health.
The Impact of Stress at Work
As previously mentioned on this platform, stress at work is a growing concern, affecting both employees and employers. According to a report by the HSE, work-related stress, depression or anxiety resulted in 17 million lost working days in 2021/22. The report also stated that work-related poor mental health accounted for over half of all working days lost due to ill health in the same period.
The impact of stress at work goes beyond just the individual affected. It can lead to a decrease in productivity, increased absenteeism, and high staff turnover rates. Additionally, it can create a negative work culture that is detrimental to the overall wellbeing of employees.
Stress at work can be caused by a range of factors, such as long working hours, heavy workloads, poor management, job insecurity, and lack of support or recognition. It is crucial for employers to take proactive measures to identify and address these factors to prevent stress from becoming a prevalent issue in the workplace.
In light of Stress Awareness Month, it is important for employers to recognise the impact of stress at work and take action to support their employees’ mental health. By doing so, they can create a positive and healthy work environment that benefits both the employees and the business.
The Importance of Supporting Employee Mental Health
It’s clear that work-related stress has a significant impact on both employees and employers. It’s therefore crucial that employers take action to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff. The benefits of doing so are numerous and far-reaching.
Firstly, supporting employee mental health can lead to improved job satisfaction and increased productivity. When employees feel supported, they are more likely to feel valued and engaged in their work, leading to a more positive work environment and better work outcomes.
Secondly, supporting mental health can also lead to reduced absenteeism and staff turnover. Stress-related illnesses and burnout can lead to employees needing to take time off work or even leaving their jobs altogether. This can be costly for employers in terms of lost productivity, recruitment, and training costs.
Finally, there is a moral and legal obligation for employers to support the mental health and wellbeing of their staff. The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 places a duty on employers to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of their employees. This includes taking steps to prevent work-related stress and providing support for those who are affected by it.
By supporting employee mental health, employers can create a more positive, productive and healthy workplace. This not only benefits the individual employees but the organisation as a whole. The Working Minds campaign provides a framework for employers to support their staff’s mental health and wellbeing, and this support is more important now than ever before.
Coping Strategies and Tools
While it’s essential for employers to take steps to promote mental health in the workplace, it’s equally important for individuals to learn effective coping strategies for managing stress. Here are some tools and resources that can help promote mental well-being:
Encouraging open communication: Employers can create an environment where staff feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns. This can be achieved by providing mental health training to managers, implementing an employee assistance program, or hosting workshops to promote mental health awareness.
Promoting work-life balance: Encouraging employees to take breaks and setting realistic deadlines can help reduce work-related stress. Additionally, offering flexible working hours and promoting a healthy work-life balance can help employees manage their workload and feel more in control.
Providing mental health support services: Employers can offer access to professional mental health support services, such as therapy or counselling. This can be achieved through an employee assistance program or by partnering with a mental health organisation.
Addressing workplace stressors: Employers can work to identify and address common workplace stressors, such as workload, lack of support, or poor communication. This can be achieved by conducting employee surveys, implementing stress management training, or offering a stress reduction program.
Promoting self-care: Encouraging employees to engage in self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, and mindfulness can help reduce stress and improve mental health. Providing resources such as relaxation apps, online meditation courses, or on-site yoga classes can help employees develop a self-care routine.
By implementing these strategies and promoting mental health awareness in the workplace, employers can help their workers manage stress and improve their overall mental well-being.
Stress Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the importance of addressing work-related stress and supporting employee mental health. The Working Minds campaign, supported by the HSE and other organisations, is one initiative that provides tools and resources (accessible here) for employers to create mentally healthy workplaces and promote open communication around mental health.
It’s clear that work-related stress is a significant issue in the UK, with implications for both employees and employers. However, by taking proactive steps to support employee mental health and well-being, organisations can create a more positive and productive work environment. As Wendy Halliday, director of mental health charity See Me has noted, ‘The last few years have been tough for workers across the country, and we know that more needs to be done to enable people to feel comfortable speaking about their mental health.’
Ultimately, creating mentally healthy workplaces benefits everyone, and should be a priority for employers. By supporting employee mental health, organisations can not only improve the well-being of their staff, but also enhance productivity, reduce absenteeism, and create a more positive and inclusive workplace culture.
At Healthscreen, we offer an Employee Assistance Programme that can provide employees with the support they need to manage stress and other mental health challenges. Our programme includes confidential counselling and support services that can help employees address a wide range of personal and work-related issues. Contact us today to learn more about how our Employee Assistance Programme can benefit your organisation and help you support your employees’ mental health and well-being.