World Mental Health Day: How we’re tackling mental health stigma at work

This Thursday marks World Mental Health Day. While mental health problems can affect anyone on any day of the year, the 10th October offers us all an opportunity to stop, think and talk about our mental health.

The lack of knowledge and awareness surrounding mental ill health has led to societal stigma and discrimination of people with mental health problems. One in four people will experience a mental health issue in any given year – that is a quarter of our employees who could potentially need support. We’re striving to remove this stigma in our workplace, to normalise discussion about mental health, and to ensure our employees are supported regardless of their mental or physical health.

Earlier this year two of our colleagues trained to become mental health ‘first aiders’ (MHFAs) in our bid to break the stigma. We spoke to Catherine, a HR Assistant and Mental Health First Aider at DSD, to discuss the importance of talking about and supporting mental health in the workplace.

How can a Mental Health First Aider help?

Mental Health First Aiders are better equipped to spot the early signs of poor mental ill health in their colleagues, and are there to point them towards further sources of help to support their recovery. Their role is to be approachable, listen, offer information on sources of help, and to encourage that person to seek the help they need.

What is the benefit of providing mental health first aid?

We hope that by training employees on mental health first aid, we can promote a healthy environment where employees feel confident to talk openly about any problems, and know they will get the support they need.

Awareness of mental health issues is now growing quickly, but the stigma attached to mental health issues has always been a major obstacle to people seeking an effective diagnosis or support. As more people feel comfortable talking about mental health issues, it’s an ideal time to be prepared to support any employees with any issues they may have.

What responsibility do we take for our employee’s mental health?

Work plays a very important role in our mental health and well-being and so it can be central to a person’s happiness. Therefore, promoting and supporting positive mental health is part of being a responsible employer. Not only that, but looking after our employee’s mental health encourages employee engagement, improves morale and increases loyalty.

Are there wider benefits to consider for a business considering training their first MHFA?

Our motivation for training MHFAs is to support our employees and colleagues dealing with mental health issues, particularly in the early stages. However, the result of improved well-being is also thought to benefit productivity: approximately 70 million working days are lost each year because of mental health. Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that our colleagues feel supported at work regardless of their health, and we hope this latest step will both benefit our employees and encourage other businesses to consider a similar approach.

 

Graphic reading: No-one should feel ashamed to talk about mental healthResources

For more information on Mental Health First Aiders, visit the Mental Health First Aid England website: mhfaengland.org.

For more information on mental health support, see Time to Change: working to improve attitudes and behaviour surrounding mental health, or Mind: working to ensure everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.