The Workers Union is urging firms to help smash the employee blues.
The announcement comes after the country experienced “Blue Monday”, supposedly the most depressing day of the year. The term was coined back in 2004, by the psychologist Cliff Arnall, who used a number of different factors including time since Christmas, debt, bad weather and low motivational levels to unveil the third Monday in January as Britain’s bluest day.
A spokesperson for The Workers Union, said: ‘Although the reality of Blue Monday is up for discussion, there’s no doubt that depression itself is a real and very present problem in today’s work place. COVID has played a major part in accelerating the issue through forced isolation, redundancies and distributed working. We want to see companies challenge this situation by responding in a way that redefines the relationship between employer and employee. Inspiration, aspiration and motivation are the key concepts here, and they should all play a big role in delivering a 21st century experience for working people.’
While the idea of a single most depressing day of the year may have its detractors, data published by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has revealed that over 800,000 people experienced anxiety, stress and depression at work in 2020-21. Women in the 25 to 34 age range were most likely to report feeling depressed, stressed or anxious at work, but higher than average rates were also recorded in the health and social care, defence and education sectors.
The causes ranged from increased workloads, to bullying, lack of support and violence in the workplace. The report also stated that COVID was a major component in workers’ mental health struggles over the last 12 months.
The HSE’s chief executive, Sarah Albon, said: ‘The 12-month period in question coincides with the first national lockdown and the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. There have been significant impacts on the labour market, which is reflected in our reporting.
‘The latest figures on work-related stress reinforce our previous concerns around the scale of this issue in workplaces.’
The Workers Union Says…
Mental health struggles are an insidious blot on the lives of working people. Never obvious until they are obvious, victims still run the gauntlet of unfair judgements, rumours and misunderstandings. The COVID situation has not helped, but neither has the attitude of some employers who still prefer to believe that these problems go away with a straight back and a bit of spit and polish.
But let’s be frank. They don’t go away without better interventions. For some people that means seeking help from charities or the NHS. But for those people whose problems are work-related, there should be more support and understanding.
This organisation is urging employers to help smash the working blues by investing in wellness at work. It has never been more imperative to do this than it is now, when so many people are suffering from the effects of COVID. It is not just essential from a wellbeing point of view, but from a commercial perspective, too. The company that has regular check ins with staff, that offers flexibility and non-judgemental conduits of feedback to managers, is the company of tomorrow. The company that has a clear programme of progression for workers and a welcoming culture that promotes inclusion, is a company that invests in people, not “human resources”. These initiatives will not be enough to completely eradicate mental health issues at work, but they are an important step along the road to a better tomorrow for our brilliant British workers.