World Mental Health Day
On World Mental Health Day we have decided to take a break from FCA regulatory and legislative rule changes, (SM&CR, MiFID, IDD) to focus on something more important – your mental health and how to improve it in your workplace.
Outline of the problem
Earlier in the year, personneltoday revealed that the number of stress-related absences in financial services is higher today than in the aftermath of the last financial crisis! With pressure from sales and increased regulatory scrutiny – work-life balances become out of kilter.
This year’s World Mental Health Day focus is on suicide prevention. In the UK, men are three times as likely to die by suicide than women! Compliance and Financial Services are both predominantly male-dominated industries, as such this is a worrying statistic.
Anyone can suffer from mental health problems, and over our lives, many of us will. This year alone 1 in 4 of us will experience a diagnosable mental health problem such as anxiety, stress or depression – and yet for a majority of us, our mental health is not something which we feel comfortable talking about.
Steps to improve your mental health
Many of us (in particular men) are guilty of ignoring, or bottling up, our mental health and press on with our lives sometimes using different factors to distract ourselves from how we feel.
Your mental health influences how you work, feel and act in day to day life. How you are feeling also impacts your ability to handle stress, deadlines, challenges and dealing with setbacks.
Many of us put off dealing with the way we feel as we don’t want the stigma which can be attached to mental health conditions. The good news is that there are lots of ways which you can take back control of your mental health and work towards improving it…
In this digital age, we are all guilty of using social media, emails, Skype etc. to communicate, rather than having a physical conversation with someone. Next time you need to ask a colleague something, go to their desk or pick up the phone to them, not only will you then be able to have a conversation with someone, but you might get the answer you need quicker too so it is a win-win scenario.
We’re not saying you need to go to the gym, start running marathons or swim the channel – but being active and taking regular physical activity has been proven to improve mental health. If this is taking a walk in your lunch break, taking the stairs rather than the lift, playing a sport with friends, or just taking your kids to the park – find something that you enjoy and make it a habit.
Many of us complete exams and further learning as part of our professional lives, and whilst these can help us professionally, improve our knowledge and help us get those all-important promotions, you also need to take time to do something for you.
This could be as simple as reading a new book, researching something, learning a language or learning a new skill. For example, next week a number of us in the office are learning to do Macrame, keep an eye on our Twitter for the end results!
Give to others
Helping a friend or someone in your area in a time of need is not only a great thing to do on a human level, but it is also great for your mental health. This could be as simple as helping your elderly next-door neighbour with their shopping or helping out at a local food bank. Whatever you decide to do, you will find that helping others will also help you.
You don’t need to be a yoga guru to be mindful or take notice of your environment. You just need to take some time to enjoy the world around you, this could be as simple as not putting your headphones in on your walk to work or having a spring clean at home. Just remember that variety is the spice of life! If you always walk the same route to work, try a different one, you never know what you might find.
How to improve mental health in the workplace
More and more employers are acknowledging the impact in which poor mental health has on their staff and they are taking steps to improve their outlook on mental wellbeing in the workplace.
If you’re an employer who wishes to create a mentally healthy workplace you need to:
Having effective management and a culture of open dialogue are key elements of reducing stress and uncertainty within your staff. A workplace culture where employees feel able to voice ideas and concerns provides helps with promoting awareness and discussions with mental health.
Tackle the causes of work-related mental health problems
To address mental health in your staff, it is key that your managers are trained to recognise mental health problems and know how to support staff with this.
Things that can impact a persons mental health include:
- Working long hours.
- High-pressure environments.
- Unmanageable workloads or lack of control overwork.
- Negative relationships or poor communication.
- Poor managerial support.
- Job insecurity or change management.
- Lone working.
Support staff who are experiencing mental health problems
Having a culture which promotes wellbeing and offers help to tackle the causes of mental health problems helps to encourage staff to talk to their manager about mental health issues or concerns. The key for managers is to have an honest and open conversation with the employee and where the employee needs to take time off because of it, keeping these conversations going whilst they are away.
How you, as employers, manage and support your staff will either promote or hinder your employees’ engagement and motivation. To help with this, several organisations have appointed mental health first aiders to be the point of contact for employees who are struggling with mental health.
Where can I find more information?
For both employees and employers, the charity Mind has a lot of information on its website about mental health and mental health in the workplace. They also offer training and guides which are worth a look at.