Blue Monday is supposedly the saddest day of the year. It is the third Monday of January that’s been awarded the title due to a combination of cold dark evenings, the dread of returning to work after the festive period and the unwelcome arrival of unpaid credit card bills.
According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six workers is experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression, at any one time. For many, the workplace is the epicentre of the problem, and with an estimated 300,000 jobs lost each year as a result of mental illness, it is clear that this is a crisis that needs addressing.
Blue Monday is a great opportunity for employers to recognise the good work of your staff. Such a small gesture will inevitably help them to feel more positive and motivated in the workplace. The benefits of promoting good mental health at work should go without saying: staff who have good mental health are likely to be more productive, motivated and have higher attendance levels.
It is crucial for employers to know what to do when faced with an employee who is or might be suffering from a mental health issue. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:
- Communicate with your staff, and encourage them to speak to you if they are facing any particular problems at work which may be affecting their ability to cope with work.
- Train your managers to identify and support employees who may be suffering from a mental health issue, including stress, anxiety and depression.
- Consult medical professionals, including Occupational Health, to ensure you are properly informed about what the problem is and how it may affect or be affected by the employee’s job.
- Make reasonable adjustments for employees with mental illness to help them remain in work. In cases where such illness may be long-running and severe enough to amount to a disability, there is a legal obligation on you to do so.
- Review the situation regularly: mental health issues can recur even if they seem to have disappeared, so it is important not to let things slide.