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Health and Wellbeing at Work

No Mind Left Behind

Andrew Berry - Mind

Every year, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem. Many of us are speaking more openly about our experiences and seeking support. But there are still so many people urgently waiting, not getting the help they need. 

Over 2 million people are waiting for NHS mental health services, and since 2017 the number of young people struggling with their mental health has nearly doubled. People tell us they feel overwhelmed and hopeless, that things will never change. They need support now and we need to build a better future for us all, where mental health is handled right. 

That’s why for Mental Health Awareness Week 2024, we’re launching #NoMindLeftBehind. We’re calling on workplaces to raise awareness for a future where everyone can get quality mental health care when they need it.

You can raise awareness of the need for change by sharing our downloadable assets including posters, Facebook and Instagram posts from our Mental Health Awareness Week webpages.

Mental health at work   

Our most recent Workplace Wellbeing Index findings, published in February 2024, found that mental health has improved on the previous year and more employees are taking time off for mental and physical health issues. 65% of people felt generally happy at work over the previous month – a 4.9% increase on the previous year – and more employees are talking to their employer about mental health problems with 55.7% of people at work communicating their current experiences of poor mental health, an increase of 6.9%.

However, people at the beginning of their careers, people of colour and LGBTQIA+ employees generally scored lower across all areas of assessment. Only 25% of young employees who had experienced a mental health problem, for example, said they had disclosed that problem to their employer – and 22.4% more LGBTQIA+ employees reported experiencing poor mental health.

And of course a great number of people have current concerns around the cost of living, which can lead not only to anxiety relating to the payment of bills, but also force people into near impossible decisions around food, heating and basic necessities.

It is therefore of paramount importance that employers and managers take a person-centred approach and consider the range of external factors that might be impacting on the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

Creating change at work

Whilst our research shows improvements in workplace mental health on the previous year, results generally show subjective mental health measures as well as assessments relating to mental health policy and practice to remain below pre-pandemic level. There remains much work to do, but there are a number of things workplaces can implement today to create positive change around mental health at work with little to no cost.

It makes sense for line managers to play a key role in employee mental health, as they likely have the greatest face time with the member of staff and are responsible for team workloads and prioritization. They are also the first port of call for team members seeking to access support or engage in conversations around workplace adjustments.

Our Workplace Wellbeing Index has demonstrated the significant impact supportive line managers can have. And the good news is, being a supportive line manager and having person-centred conversations does not need to cost a penny.

Respondents who felt their line manager supported their mental health were more than twice as likely to report good mental health than those who did not (62% against 29%).

And respondents who characterised their working relationships with their line manager as effective were more than three times as likely to report feeling generally happy at work over the last month (70% against 18%).

At Mind we encourage every member of staff to complete a Wellness Action Plan. These plans enable a team member to reflect on what supports them to work at their best, and what support they need from their manager, co-workers and, if working from home, others in their household.

It also provides a space for a member of staff to consider what activities they can undertake proactively to support their own wellbeing and what signs their manager should perhaps look out for if they might be struggling. A Wellness Action Plan can be a great way of beginning a conversation around what supports us all to do our best work and discuss with others how to best work as a team.

Another factor that can impact staff wellbeing is uncertainty. Whether that’s a lack of clarity on work required, priorities or deadlines, uncertainty can be a common source of anxiety for employees. Putting in place regular catch-ups with team members to clearly communicate these expectations, support with prioritisation, and working through any barriers or challenges can be of great support to many employees.

The best managers are those who familiarise themselves with their workplace mental health policy and any support available internally through employer-purchased services and externally through the NHS or charities such as Mind. Doing this can ensure that when employees do disclose poor mental health or require support, they are confident in the policy they should follow and where best they can signpost a team member to.

 

Written by Andrew Berrie, Head of Corporate Partnerships and leading workplace wellbeing at Mind

About Mind
We’re Mind, the mental health charity.

We believe no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. We’re here for you. Today. Now. We’re on your doorstep, on the end of a phone or online. Whether you’re stressed, depressed or in crisis.

We’ll listen, give you support and advice, and fight your corner. And we’ll push for a better deal and respect for everyone experiencing a mental health problem.

 

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