The Office of National Statistics has released a report showing the devastating results of poor mental health at work The Workers Union can reveal.
According to the ONS, 12.7 percent of all sick days are attributable to mental health conditions. The issue is compounded by feelings of shame and a fear of stigmatisation, which can lead to further isolation and a reluctance to talk about the situation.
The Workers Union believes that the way to promote positive mental health is to create open cultures where people feel able to share their concerns with colleagues.”— The Workers Union
The ONS statistics are just one of a growing number of studies that indicate that life for workers in this country can be stressful and demoralising. For example, solicitors Slater and Gordon have recently published research that shows UK plc still has a long way to go before it can claim to be a world leader in employee welfare.
The report says that the average amount of time taken off to deal with mental health illness is nearly four days; however, it also says that less than a third of workers tell their managers what they are experiencing for fear of dismissal, being made to settle for an inferior position or worries about a less than sympathetic attitude when they return to work.
The Workers Union believes that the way to promote positive mental health is to create open cultures where people feel able to share their concerns with colleagues. This might mean an informal chat with a trusted confidant or it might mean talking to management to see what can legitimately be done to help. A constructive path forward can only be found in environments that are fully prepared to adopt an ethos of understanding and tolerance. And for those people who think that ‘pulling yourself together’ is the best medicine, it’s worth remembering that mental health issues do not respect social status or position in the company hierarchy. Anyone can experience depression and anxiety at any time – wherever they work.
In a recent survey of our members, one of them told us that she was given a written warning for admitting to taking sick leave to deal with ‘stress and anxiety’. The lack of any kind of return to work plan and the apparently indifferent attitude of her employers finally led to her leaving a job she’d held for seven years.
Unfortunately, we encounter this kind of story on a regular basis. As a union, we’re saying that enough is enough and it’s time to get British business to treat this issue seriously. A quick session with the occupational health nurse and a slap on the back is not sufficient preparation for recovery, so join us and help to fight for better mental health at work.
Support for workers
Access to work – www.gov.uk/access-to-work – can provide advice and an assessment of workplace needs for individuals, with disabilities or long-term health conditions, who are already in work or about to start. Grants may also be available to help cover the cost of workplace adaptations.
Business in the Community – www.bitc.org.uk – is a network that provides toolkits on Mental Health, Suicide prevention and Suicide postvention to help employers support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.
Mind – www.mind.org.uk – is a leading mental health charity in England and Wales. It provides information and support on how to improve mental health.
Mindful Employer – www.mindfulemployer.net – is a UK-wide, NHS initiative. It is aimed at increasing awareness of mental health at work and providing support for businesses when recruiting and retaining staff.
NHS choices – www.nhs.uk/livewell/mentalhealth – offers information and practical advice for anyone experiencing mental ill health.
Remploy – www.remploy.co.uk – offers a free and confidential Workplace Mental Health Support Service for anyone absent from work or finding work difficult because of a mental health condition. It aims to help people remain in, or return to, their role.
Rethink Mental Illness – www.rethink.org – is a voluntary sector provider of mental health services offering support groups, advice and information on mental health and problems.