Friday, October 09, 2015

World Mental Health Day sees increase in reported mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) at work

Tomorrow (Saturday 10 October) is "World Mental Health Day" which is supported by the respected United Nations agency the World Health Organisation.

"World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health. 

The Day provides an opportunity for all stakeholders working on mental health issues to talk about their work, and what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide". 

While mental health issues at work are not at all solely related to work related stress it is clear that many of us are being made ill at work due to long hours and workers being treated inhumanly. This will also impact on the many at work who have pre-existing mental health issues. Often employers and individual managers (not all by any means) have very little or even no understanding of this problem. 

I am obviously horrified at the finding of the CIPD survey below but not surprised.  There is increasing economic and social inequality, low pay, zero hour contracts and reduced employment rights. If you have a workforce that is not unionised or has weak density, there is no one to "push back" and challenge senior management on long hours and uncaring attitudes. So no wonder we have such high and increasing reporting of mental health issues at work.

The CIPD (professional body for HR) is publishing a survey ahead of World Mental Health Day that shows " Over two-fifths (41%) of organisations have seen an increase in reported mental health problems (such as anxiety and depression) over the last twelve months.... In 2009, only 24% of organisations reported seeing an increase in mental health problems during that year; 2015 is now the sixth consecutive year that levels have been over 40%, showing the problem isn’t going away. Reported increases are most likely in large and medium-sized organisations, with 69% and 51% respectively showing rises. They’re also associated with long working hours and the extent to which operational demands take precedence over employee wellbeing.

“So what more can employers do? Manager training is crucial, as they are often employees’ first point of call for reporting an issue, but only 30% of organisations currently provide it.  There needs to be a lot more focus on this going forward, as well as tailored support for line managers from HR and signposting employees to appropriate support. Employers also need to look at how well their corporate culture supports good mental health and employee wellbeing.”

The report also found the private sector particularly lacking in managing and supporting employees with mental health problems, with 28% admitting they weren’t taking any action to support employees. Just 32% currently offer a counselling service, compared to 70% of public sector organisations. Similarly, only 21% said they were increasing awareness of mental health issues across the workforce as a whole, compared to over double that (47%) in the public sector"

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