Mental health was a taboo subject for a long time, but in the last few years there has been more widespread acceptance that it is a very real issue, affecting one in four people each year.
For employers it’s particularly relevant. Seventy million workdays are lost each year to stress, depression and other mental health conditions. With 60-70% of those people in work, employers have a very real duty of care and an obligation to help employees stay well, healthy and happy. Mental health and behavioural challenges such as depression and anxiety are also reported to be the primary drivers of global disability – proving that mental health issues can be the first step to wider health issues.
Too many companies talk about their employees as their greatest asset yet it’s not borne out in their behaviour, be that working culture, remuneration, values or environment. With more and more investors using employee wellness and engagement as a barometer for the health, stability and culture of the business, the concept of workplace wellbeing is finally garnering the attention it deserves.
National mental health charity MIND has produced five tips to improve mental wellbeing in the workplace. Each one is a simple and effective consideration that will help the individual and the workforce to invest in themselves.
The closer you feel to your colleagues and the more connected you are to them, the better you will feel. Social relationships are integral to wellbeing and act as a very useful buffer against mental health.
2. Be active
You don’t have to rush off to join the gym (unless you want to) but regular physical exercise is associated with lower rates of depression and anxiety. It might be a simple as getting off the bus a stop earlier, using a car park a little further from the office or going for a walk at lunch.
3. Be in the present
Take a little time to take notice of the here and now. Heightened awareness of what’s going on around you not only improves wellbeing, it allows you to take stock of what is important and improve your decision making too.
4. Get learning
We never stop learning – and the more of it you do the more it enhances self-esteem and encourages social interaction. Goal setting is particularly important and can be introduced into your working day with relative ease – this doesn’t have to be in relation to work tasks but could include learning something new about a work friend or taking the time to complete a crossword at lunch.
Give something of yourself to the local community – whether it’s time, energy or ideas. People who show a strong interest in helping others are more likely to be happy in themselves.
To find out more about workplace wellbeing and how to write a wellbeing agenda, download our Workplace Wellbeing whitepaper, which is full of guidance and advice: