Changing the face of mental health in the workplace

In my not so humble opinion, mental health is the yin to physical health yang

Illustration showing someone with a to do list. A heart shape is show over the brain of the person to represent mental health

The problem

From a young age, we are taught how to be kind, how to love and how to show up… for everyone but ourselves. We are taught that putting ourselves first is selfish. For some reason we are not taught to build a relationship with ourselves, to get to know yourself so deeply that we know what we want and more importantly, what we need. This lack of self-awareness coupled with hiding anxieties and insecurities to progress in our careers leaves us without the tools we need to look after our mental health. I mean, be honest, do you even know how to look after your mental health? And beyond that… how to look after it in your work life?

The law

There are several laws around mental health in the workplace and the surrounding measures that should be taken. These laws are constantly changing as we learn more around this subject, and as they do, ergonomics and mental health become a more prominent feature within the safety measures a workplace must take for its employees. Mental health first aid is becoming more prominent and organisations are becoming more aware of the effects mental health can have on a business. In recent years, as more millennials start to enter the workplace, companies are having to find new ways to mould an environment that is desirable to them.

Culture

Nobody wants to feel on the outside looking in, people want to feel a part of something. A company with a sense of organisational belonging will go a long way to managing peoples stress levels, which in turn increases productivity.

Values

Most people don’t think they have core values, or at least not enough to rule their life. However, if a company doesn’t align with your personal and workplace values it can put a downer on the whole experience that will greatly affect the work output and overall culture.

Recognition

Real recognition is about more than a thank you. Recognition is about the way you feel, feeling like you see positive changes from your achievements. Working within a company where you feel as though you are making a difference. where you are not just a cog in the machine.

Balance

A work-life balance is something that is important to everyone and may be different for everyone. For some people this means merely being able to take time out for doctors appointments, taking their kids to school etc. For some, this is more towards flexible working hours and remote working.

What the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says:

What ACAS says:

What Mind charity says:

World mental health day is 10th October every year
World mental health day is 10th October every year
World mental health day is 10th October

Who is responsible?

The short answer — everyone. It’s not an organisations responsibility to spearhead mental health wellness, even though a lot of the weight does lie with them. Employees also have a responsibility to be proactive and be an advocate for a better workplace.

What can the workplace do?

There is a need to build a positive mental environment and culture with regular stress-releasing activities that are tailored to your brand. Mountain climbs, yoga and pub quizzes might not be right for your organisation, you might be more dog walks and online conferences. Whatever your mental health plan is, it needs to come from and be tailored to your employees.

Better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year
Better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year
Better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year
  • Develop mental health policies within an organisation that specific information and their stance around work-life balance.
  • Ensure that employees’ jobs are manageable to avoid them feeling as though they need to work longer hours.
  • Periodically look at your work environments to identify elements of practice, policy and culture to keep a healthy work-life balance.
  • Allow and support staff in attending counselling and support services during working hours, as they would for other medical appointments.
  • Encourage activities that promote good mental health, including lunchtime exercise or relaxation classes. We use external classes online scheduled at dinner time.
Snippet of document I built to showcase mental health first aid in my workplace
Snippet of document I built to showcase mental health first aid in my workplace
Snippet of some mental health posters, speifically #AddressYourStress
Snippet of some mental health posters, speifically #AddressYourStress
One adult in eight (12.1%) receives mental health treatment
One adult in eight (12.1%) receives mental health treatment
One adult in eight (12.1%) receives mental health treatment

Work-life balance

According to the Mental Health Foundation, the pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the mental health of the general population with

  • Work-related stress already costing Britain 10.4 million working days per year

A Mental Health Foundation survey found:

  • More than 40% of employees are neglecting other aspects of their life because of work, which may increase their vulnerability to mental health problems
  • When working long hours 27% of employees feel depressed, 34% feel anxious, and 58% irritable
  • The more hours you spend at work, the more hours outside of work you are likely to spend thinking or worrying about it
  • As a person’s weekly hours increase, so do their feelings of unhappiness
  • 42% of women and 29% of men report unhappiness, which is probably a consequence of competing life roles and more pressure to ‘juggle’
  • Nearly two thirds of employees have experienced a negative effect on their personal life, including lack of personal development, physical and mental health problems, and poor relationships and poor home life.

Mental health first aid

A mental health first aider in the workplace is the go-to person for anyone who is going through some form of mental health issue. These can be temporary or long-term issues. The first aider will be present to help guide the person in distress to the relevant help that they need.

1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace
1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace
1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace

Rebranding mental health

We all know by now how mental health is seen, it’s seen as weakness and/or something that is extreme. The concept of ‘mental health’ only crosses peoples minds when you are looking at mental ill-health. Realistically mental health management is in our day to day living and we all do it without realising. Talking to your friends, having a night in, having a night out, going walking or even spending time with family… whatever your recharge ritual, it has a positive stress-relieving effect on your mental health.

Experience is not a diagnosis

It’s important to remember that mental ill-health happens to everyone, but it’s not a diagnosis and it’s not a defining feature. You may have periods of time that are filled with stress, anxiety and depression. This is completely normal and does not mean that you have a condition.

Your stress container

Understanding what causes us stress and taking action to manage our stress levels is a key part of looking after our wellbeing. The Stress Container can help us understand how we experience stress and how to address our stress levels. Give it a try!

Stress container exercise
Stress container exercise
Stress container exercise

UX DESIGN — MENTAL HEALTH — PSYCHOLOGY — INCLUSIVITY