Mental Health Awareness Week 2022
Astutis are proud to support the 2022 Mental Health Awareness Week hosted by the Mental Health Foundation from 9-15th May 2022. This year’s theme wishes to bring awareness around the topic ‘Loneliness’.
Attitudes toward workplace mental health have surged in the last couple of years. Despite the turmoil caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, the pandemic allowed society to forensically analyse its perception of wellbeing in general, and the conclusion was pretty damning.
If we ever struggled, it became ingrained that we could not ask for help, that we just needed to get on with the job at hand. After all, it would be embarrassing to kick up a fuss at work. Whatever the issue is, don't worry; finish your work and address it after working hours.
Ultimately, nearly everyone has gone through a situation similar to that. If it was not glaringly apparent years ago, it is now; the attitudes towards workplace mental health were prehistoric.
Employees take to work the emotions and experiences, whether good or bad, that occupy their daily lives. Asking human beings to simply shut them off for 7-9 hours each day is one tall order. The result can leave employees with lingering aftereffects of harmful suppression.
One of the UK's leading mental health and wellbeing speakers, Jason Anker MBE, believes employee mental health is the most critical aspect in reducing workplace accidents and fatalities. Discover more about the importance of employee wellbeing before Health and Safety in our discussion with Jason Anker MBE below.
Understanding how to improve workplace wellbeing is intrinsically linked to workplace culture. Simply put, you cannot expect a workplace with poor culture to value improvements in workplace mental health.
In short, a positive workplace culture begins with transparency. Employees need to feel like they can if they wish. Therefore encouraging and actively establishing a communicative environment is crucial. Once employees feel like they can speak and be heard, the workplace will begin to feel naturally vibrant and positive.
Employees bring sensitive emotions to work every day. Some choose to suppress how they feel; however, not everyone can. This often leads to employees feeling incapable of working to their usual standards or not working at all. Suppressing the emotions can lead to a snowballing effect making it worse for the employee. Therefore "normalising conversations regarding workplace wellbeing is critical", according to Jason Anker MBE.
"People put a lot of weight on how important safety is. But the underlying factor here is culture. If you have someone in a [mentally] bad place going to work, how much work do you think they will get done?" ponders Jason. "The culture that has existed, and can still be found in some places today, has prevented the workplace from being a mental safe space. More must be done to make the workplace an accepting arena for mental health".
The topic of how culture and attitudes to health and safety at work have evolved over the years is covered in our insightful discussion with Jason Anker MBE, in season 2 of our Health & Safety Digest below.
Jason, then aged 24, fell ten feet off an unstable ladder and is now paralysed from the legs down. He believes he carried too many outside factors from his life into the job that cost him his mobility. Jason now travels around the globe to promote mental well-being and the importance of health and safety.
"I see it in most places I go", Jason hesitates, "employees are not able to express themselves. One may have had a terrible few days, arguments, domestics, family trouble, addiction. Ultimately, all of that can put someone in a bad mindset when they work".
"Take the construction industry, for example. You could have someone there who has turned up to work in a terrible place mentally, overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. The problem in construction is if you're not at work, you lose the job; that's the nature of it. So this individual would most likely turn up to work completely overwhelmed and not fit to work. Therefore this person is a risk not just to themselves but to their colleagues. If conversations regarding employee wellbeing were more normalised, that person could have taken a break and not worked in a hazardous environment when stressed and overwhelmed".
"It's costing an unforeseen number of lives" Jason concludes, "it won't be fixed overnight, but we must start changing workplace cultures to make it safe for people to communicate their wellbeing to their employer".
If you find yourself overwhelmed at work, or even outside of it, it's so important to know you are not alone. If you can try to mention how you feel to someone you trust. If you don't want to talk to anyone at your workplace, you can contact a leading mental health organisation that can listen and offer advice if you want it. If you notice a colleague who is seemingly upset or unlike themselves try to support them.
You can find Jason Anker MBE on his website and you can watch his inspirational talks online.
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