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Prioritise Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace: Mental Health Awareness Week 2024

May 2024

 

Astutis is proud to support Mental Health Awareness Week 2024 by reaffirming our commitment to good mental health practices in the workplace and encouraging other organisations to invest in the right training to better educate themselves on how to support their employees.

 

What is Mental Health Awareness Week?

Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event observed in many countries around the world. Typically held in May, it’s a time for us to:

  • Discuss mental health.
  • Raise awareness and support for mental health issues.
  • Reduce stigma related to mental health.
  • Educate on mental health and its impact on our lives.

 

Why is it Important to Talk About Mental Health at Work?

Talking about mental health is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it’s something that will impact everyone at some point in their lives. Having open dialogue about it helps to break down the stigma surrounding mental health conditions helping people experiencing them to come forward and seek help without fear of judgement.

Additionally, open conversations about mental health promote understanding and empathy, fostering a supportive environment for those struggling with mental health challenges. This is especially important when building a safety culture. One of the primary ways to create a safety culture in the workplace is open communication about health and safety concerns. There’s no reason why mental health should be any different.

By discussing mental health openly, we can also educate others and advocate for improved mental health resources and services. It’s one of the reasons we launched our Mental Health and Workplace Safety course in collaboration with Professor Tim Marsh.

 

How Does Mental Health Affect the Workplace?

Mental health can significantly impact all areas of an employee’s life, including:

  • Relationships
  • Work
  • Physical health
  • Overall quality of life

When someone experiences poor mental health, it can drastically increase stress which can drastically increase the possibility of burnout. One in five adults in the UK has needed to take time away from work due to stress and burnout. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also corroborated this report by revealing that each person suffering from work-related ill-health connected to stress, depression or anxiety had to take 20 days away from work on average.

Stress and mental health difficulties affect concentration and generate feelings of sadness or hopelessness. As employers, not only will this reduce the morale of employees in the workplace, but they will also be more prone to accidents from lack of concentration. Mental Health UK also reports that 49% of workers report their organisation is ill-equipped to address chronic stress and burnout. This is especially concerning as under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, employers have a general duty of care to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of all their employees, and this includes employees' mental health. Protect the minds of your employees so they can protect the safety of themselves and others.

The time to act and educate employers and employees on mental health in the workplace is now. If they go untreated, mental health issues can exacerbate already existing problems, leading to more severe conditions.

 

What is the Difference Between Mental Health and Well-Being?

Mental health and well-being are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences between them. This is a core component of being on Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) professional in the modern workplace. Understanding the difference and being able to communicate that to employees will go a long way to spreading understanding of mental health issues.

  • Mental health: Refers to a person's psychological and emotional well-being, including their ability to cope with stress, manage emotions, and navigate life's challenges.
  • Well-being: Encompasses a broader spectrum of factors, including physical health, social connections, and overall life satisfaction. While mental health is a component of well-being, well-being encompasses various aspects of a person's life beyond just their mental health.

For more information about the difference between the two, as well as practical steps to develop a strategy to improve health and well-being in the workplace, we’d recommend you look at the NEBOSH Level 6 Diploma, which covers this in abundance.

 

How are Mental Health and Wellbeing Linked?

Mental health and well-being are closely intertwined. They influence one another, and when someone is experiencing good mental health, they are more likely to have a higher overall sense of well-being. They are like to be happier and feel more fulfilled.

On the flip side, poor mental health can detract from a person's overall well-being, impacting their ability to enjoy life, maintain healthy relationships, and pursue their goals. By prioritising mental health and adopting strategies to support well-being, organisations can cultivate an environment where employees feel more balanced and happier throughout their lives.

 

What Does WAP Stand for in Mental Health?

When looking at Mental Health and Wellbeing in the workplace a key part of your strategy will be Wellbeing Action Plans (WAP).

A Wellbeing Action Plan is a personalised document designed to help individuals identify potential triggers for poor mental health and develop strategies to manage their well-being effectively.

Wellbeing action plans typically include self-care techniques, coping mechanisms, and support resources. They are often used in workplaces and educational settings to promote mental health awareness and support employees in maintaining their well-being.

We recommend people who are beginning to explore mental health and it’s impacts on the workplace look to complete the Mental Health and Workplace Safety course below. This course takes a holistic approach to mental health and well-being in the workplace, and the benefits for learners of this course include:

  • Expert guidance to understand your mental health.
  • Possessing the understanding to successfully help those in need.
  • Having a positive influence in your workplace and embedding progressive attitudes towards mental health.   
  • Discovering what traits to look out for in colleagues and how to respond.
  • Gaining skills to proactively deliver the benefits of the ‘good work is good for your mental health’ culture.

Mental Health Awareness Week provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of mental health and well-being in our lives. By fostering open conversations, understanding the difference between mental health and well-being, and recognising the interconnectedness of the two, we can work towards creating a more supportive and inclusive society and workplace where everyone has the resources and support, they need to thrive.

 

 

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