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How Well are Businesses Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace?

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As part of a three year project looking at mental health in the workplace, Business in the Community have released the latest report which demonstrates how the workforce across the UK are supporting mental wellbeing. The report highlights a continuing lack of training in mental health in the workplace for both employees and managers, but that those who are making changes are reaping the rewards in staff wellbeing which is having positive effects on retention and recruitment.

The report also provides a summary of some of the results from employees and employers in Wales, comparing them to the UK workforce as a whole.

Significant findings for Wales

  • 61% of employees in Wales have experienced a mental health problem due to work.
  • 67% of Welsh managers have not had any mental health training.
  • 79% of employees in Wales have not had any mental health training.
  • 42% of Welsh managers cite lack of training as a barrier to supporting their staff with mental wellbeing. Compared to 29% UK, there is a recognition that there is a lot of work to do to successfully embed mental wellbeing into workplace culture, and create supportive environments in which people feel able to be open about their mental health.
  • 89% Welsh managers agree that the wellbeing of their employees is their responsibility, however they often do not feel they have the support themselves to be able to help staff who come to them or they recognise to be having mental health problems.

In comparison to the UK as a whole, Wales are slightly ahead in some areas, including creating an environment where employees feel comfortable to discuss issues and mental health problems.

The main differences are in response to the support and solutions that Welsh employees feel could help with their mental health problem. A significantly higher amount of people felt an internal job move would help, as opposed to getting extra help with workload. Employees also felt that a flexible working approach and flexible environment were key, alongside support with workload, citing resolutions such as being able to work from home, or work more flexible hours.

Managers in Wales also recognise the need for more training on mental health, and this is one of the key recommendations from the BITC report. It is particularly important that SMEs put measures in place as, although smaller business often have higher levels of wellbeing, smaller teams and lack of resource should not be a reason for inaction.

Interestingly, although 56% of employees in Wales believe that their line manager is genuinely concerned about their wellbeing, only a small percentage feel able to confide in anyone at work about their mental health problems for fear of discrimination or even disciplinary action.

The UK-wide report, which has completed its third annual survey, demonstrates that progress has been made in the past three years, with a 5% rise in employees who believe that their organisation does well in supporting those with mental health issues. However, there is a focus on the fact that there is still a lot more to be done to make real change.

Simon Jones, Head of Policy and Influencing at Mind Cymru, said:

“We know from our own insights from our Workplace Wellbeing index that the mental health of employees fluctuates with many employees feeling anxious at some point in a month. Employers need to be proactive rather than reactive in their approach to managing mental health at work.”

Here are the top three recommendations to come out of the report that particularly apply to employers in Wales

  • Mental Health training should be provided for all members of staff, including managers.
  • Employers might acknowledge mental health as a priority in the workplace, but they should be prepared to make adjustments to support staff, including reviewing and implementing their own mental health policies.
  • Employers should create a network of mental health champions who can create a positive and supportive culture around mental health, and raise awareness of the ways in which the organisation can support its employees.

What can employers do in Wales?

  • Sign the Time to Change Wales Organisation Pledge and commit to taking actions that are realistic and right for you that will lead to a reduction in discrimination within your organisation and the wider community.
  • Sign up to our Workplace Wellbeing index, a benchmark of best practise and an opportunity to gather feedback from staff and show a commitment to prioritising mental health in the workplace. The index is now open for registrations of interest for 2019.
  • Make use of available resources to you. The Mental Health at Work gateway [https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk] is a brilliant collection of free resources that anyone can access. There is information, toolkits, and case studies which can be tailored to sector, type of workplace, size of company and responsibility level.

 

Visit mind.org.uk/work for more useful tips and guides about how to manage your own or other people’s mental health at work.

Keep an eye on our training page for upcoming courses in Cardiff.