The answer: sign up to the new Mental Health at Work Commitment

This comes from a LinkedIN Post from BITC. (business in the Community)

YouGov survey data from more than 4,000 UK employees informed BITC’s recent Mental Health at Work 2019 report: Time to Take Ownership in partnership with Mercer Marsh Benefits and BITC’s Wellbeing Leadership Team. The report shows that progress is being made but it is not happening with the scale and speed needed.

Unacceptably, employers are contributing to the psychological harm experienced by their staff through poor job design and working practices.

Two in five (39%) UK workers experienced symptoms of poor mental health related to work in the past year, up from 36% in 2018.

The report highlights that employers are not acknowledging or dealing with the adverse impact work has on employees’ mental health. Of the 39% of employees surveyed who have experienced poor mental health due to work, over half say this is due to pressure such as too many priorities or targets. 36% cited workload, a third (33%) said that this was caused by negative work relationships. Almost one in four (24%) explicitly cited bullying and harassment from their manager as a major cause.

In the UK, it is considered ‘normal’ for employees not to expect to be physically injured and equally, they should not expect to be psychologically harmed. A profound cultural shift is paramount in order to achieve psychological safety. Instead of pushing managers towards tactical ‘band-aid’ solutions, which aren’t in themselves capable of radically shifting the national dial, business leaders need to think strategically. It’s time for business leaders to take ownership and tackle the systemic causes of poor mental health in order to achieve parity between physical and mental health.

The government’s 2011 report No Health Without Mental Health report included reference to parity of esteem for the first time which is defined as ‘valuing mental health equally with physical health’. A ‘parity approach’ enables employers to provide a holistic, ‘whole-person’ approach to every employee with their physical and mental health needs treated equally.

Barriers in the workplace include a lack of support, which can prevent employees with mental health problems getting treated with the same vigour as if they had a physical health issue, a lack of openness and with the stigma of disclosing a mental health issue attached potential negative consequences.

41% of employees experiencing a mental health problem reported that there had been no resulting changes or actions taken in the workplace

51% of employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health issues

9% of employees who disclosed a mental health problem were subsequently disciplined, demoted or dismissed.

The mental health debate has moved on and business leaders now need to step up and make direct changes to the way they think about and tackle mental health issues.

By encouraging empathy and an inclusive workplace culture, built on a foundation of psychological safety, companies can ensure lasting change.

The report sets out recommendations in consensus with 9 national partners to show businesses how to create positive, inclusive workplace cultures that support mental health.

We urge all employers to sign up to the new Mental Health at Work Commitment developed in partnership with BITC’s Wellbeing Leadership and the Thriving at Work Leadership Council and aligned to the recommendations in this report.

Those who want to be the best employers to attract top talent must remove the barriers to improving wellbeing, retention and productivity. Business is at their best when people are at their best. Let’s ensure people can bring their whole selves to work and thrive while they’re there.