Imagine if every day you went into work, someone took a fine slice of flesh off your arm or leg, until you reached a point where you could no longer function. There would be an outcry and this would be seen to be intolerable. Yet, your mind can be slowly and inextricably carved up. The damage can be done before anyone notices. Research shows that 6 out of 10 employees would not talk about mental health issues with their employer.
The latest report on public mental health by the Chief Medical Officer, Dame Sally Davies, makes grim reading. It says mental illness led to the loss of 70 million working days last year – up 24% since 2009. Overall, mental illness costs the economy between £70bn and £100bn in lost productivity, benefit payments and absence from work. One in four of us are likely to suffer from mental ill health at some time.
Isn’t it time to remove the taboo and start talking about mental health?
However, it is a topic that many employers find difficult to talk about, let alone address. This was demonstrated during our pilot of ‘Play on Your Mind’, which is a learning experience on increasing and protecting the brain power in a business. It combines drama and experiential training and has been designed by Training for Results and TakeArt.
During the play of a workplace scenario, the audience of employers were encouraged to offer solutions for a better outcome. This could not be achieved in the scene unless the mental health issues were addressed. The audience preferred to focus on changing the process rather than improve the mental state of the manager.
Employers can have a major impact on the mental well-being of their team. This was highlighted to us recently, when an MD was asked to take voluntary leave whilst a grievance against him was investigated. The leave was extended from three to sixteen weeks to allow ‘proper procedures’ to be carried out. The procedures may have been legally correct, but where was the human compassion? This MD now has a severe mental challenge requiring medication and therapy. The impact is not just on him, but his whole family.
Enormous pressures can be put on a business and the people who work in it. More than ever, we need to be mindful of the precious and important aspect of mental resilience at all levels. This impacts on the bottom line, on the morale of the team and our future.
- Do you have a mental health strategy?
- Do you measure the mental challenges facing you and your team?
- How much are you slicing off the brain power in your business?
- Are you signed up to Time to Change?