One in seven workers has resigned from a job because of stress, according to research from mental health charity Mind. To try to combat workplace stress, the charity has released a collection of 11 case studies from business leaders in different industries explaining how and why they prioritise the mental health of their employees.
The survey of 1250 workers in England and Wales found nearly one in five (18%) had developed depression as a result of stress and about a quarter (24%) had developed anxiety. Forty percent had looked for a new job, with 14% actually handing in their notice.
The case study collection, Getting Ahead: Why Mental Health at Work Matters, includes contributions from the finance, construction, charity, local authority and education sectors.
Martin Coyd, head of environment, health and safety for Europe at construction and project management firm Lend Lease, explains how the company has trained more than 100 mental health first aiders across the UK and Europe and advertises their whereabouts alongside the usual notifications for fire marshals and (physical) first aiders. There is a lot of talk about “zero harm” in the construction industry, he says, but for this to be a reality, there will need to be a much greater focus on mental as well as physical health.
Tony Cates, partner and UK head of audit at KPMG, describes initiatives the bank has taken to improve mental health over the past year, including a two day training programme for all partners in mental health and resilience, a talk from Tony Blair’s director of communications Alastair Campbell on his experience of depression, and the creation of a “Be mindful” area on the company’s intranet, allowing workers to share information on managing mental health.
Protecting the mental health of workers is particularly difficult in the face of budget cuts and restructures, says Nathan Elvery, chief executive of Croydon Council. The local authority must save £100 million over the next three years and is aware that frontline staff will face the greatest stresses. To combat this, the council has updated its stress risk assessment using the HSE’s management standards, signed up to the Time to Change pledge to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination in the workplace and formed a diversity network for mental health alongside those for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender), BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic), disability and carers.
Mind hopes the collection will encourage businesses across the country to take steps to improve employee wellbeing. Earlier this year, the annual sickness absence survey from manufacturers’ organisation EEF found almost a third of companies thought mental illness was the hardest thing to make workplace adjustments for, while just one in ten companies provided training for line managers in mental health problems and only 2% had an open mental health disclosure policy.
There is undoubtedly a growing concern with regard to health and stress in the workplace and organisations need to have procedures in place to help manage workplace stress.
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