Published: 13 May 2024
Addressing Mental Health in the workplace isn't exactly a walk in the park. For many, it remains a sensitive topic, one we'd rather sidestep than confront head-on. Yet, statistics show that 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (like anxiety and depression) in any given week in England. Whether these struggles stem from work pressures or personal life, they inevitably affect our performance on the job. So, why exactly is mental health crucial in the workplace? What signs should we watch for? And how can we foster a culture of positive well-being?

Why does Mental Health matter?

Firstly, we must recognise that mental health is universal—we all have it. The good news is that it's not always negative; we can enjoy good mental health too. Those days when we feel unstoppable, ready to conquer any obstacle the world throws our way—that's the positive mental state we're after. Just as our physical health fluctuates, so does our mental well-being. Acknowledging and discussing this openly in the workplace plays a vital role in nurturing the well-being of our teams.
Navigating through our daily challenges, both at work and in our personal lives can be demanding. Often, the pressures we face outside of work are unseen by our colleagues. Have we taken a moment to consider the myriad of emotions our coworkers might be dealing with? From financial worries and relationship strains to health concerns, there's a range of stresses people may be experiencing. Disregarding or downplaying these emotions can potentially escalate into more serious conditions like depression or severe anxiety.

Spotting the signs

Promoting positive mental health is a collective responsibility, just as looking out for our colleagues is. It's not enough to brush off concerns with "HR will handle it" or "It's not my job as their manager." As colleagues and often friends, we owe it to each other to be vigilant. Here are some behaviours that might signal a colleague is struggling:
While these signs might manifest in anyone's life at some point, in the case of poor mental health, they often escalate rapidly, deviating significantly from their usual behaviours. Sometimes, these symptoms go unnoticed, underscoring the need for these discussions to be a regular part of workplace dialogue.

Simple ways to promote positive Mental Health

While Mental Health Awareness Week is a great initiative, fostering a culture of awareness shouldn't be confined to a single week. It should be woven into our everyday conversations and integrated into workplace policies. For more resources on mental health awareness, organisations like Mental offer valuable insights.
Remember, it's okay not to be okay. Let's start talking and support each other through these challenging times.