How work impacts employee and employer mental health

With Mental Health Awareness Week upon us, we’ve taken a look at some of the troubling stats surrounding mental health in the workplace

How work impacts employee and employer mental health

Over the past couple of years, mental health has become an increasingly prominent topic, which has seen startups do what they can to support those suffering. It’s something that can impact quite literally anyone, regardless of social status or background. Given most of us spend the majority of our time at work, it’s inevitably means the workplace plays a big role in our mental wellbeing.

In time for Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from May 14-18, Cascade HR, the human resources and payroll software business, has surveyed 540 UK workers to find 67% had found they were stressed while doing their job for at least a week within the past year. Additionally, a fifth of respondents had been off work due to stress.

Workload was the biggest driver of stress as cited by 68% of employees, followed by colleague behaviour at 47%, work-family balance at 40% and management style at 39%. Alarmingly, 75% said stress was simply “a way of life”.

Fortunately, 40% feel their boss has taken enough proactive steps to protect mental wellness and 61% feel they could speak up if they began to experience stress-related symptoms.

Commenting on the results, Oliver Shaw, CEO at Cascade HR, said: “The statistics would suggest that stress looms large for the British workforce, which – as a country of employers – is something we need to address.” 

He added that the study is encouraging as so many were able to share their thoughts, effectively tackling the mental health stigma. That said, it would seem employers face their own mental health matters to deal with, according to a separate study. 

Earlier in May, The Prompt Payment Directory, a payment rating website, found that 52% of SME owners claimed poor cashflow was behind their panic attacks, anxiety and depression. Some respondents even admitted suicidal thoughts and extreme anger. The percentage is up from 29% last year.

It’s hardly surprising that many business owners may end up struggling with poor mental health, given many struggle to have good work-life balance, according to research from 2018 International Business Festival. The research found that 76% didn’t have time for holidays, 65% said the same about dating and 48% didn’t see enough of their partners.

With many doing their bit to spread awareness of mental health this week, the lord mayor of London Charles Bowman, London mayor Sadiq Khan and Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham have embraced campaign called This is Me, which is launched by Barclays and designed to end the stigma around mental health in businesses. It’s supported by some 200,000 employees and almost 400 businesses are signed up to it.

Mark McLane, Barclays global head of diversity and inclusion, said: “When Barclays launched This is Me as a campaign to challenge the stigma around mental health in the workplace, we hoped to increase understanding amongst our colleagues and generate a powerful shift towards a culture of greater openness and inclusion.”

Clearly, business leaders have to take both their employees and their own mental health seriously. Importantly, they shouldn’t be afraid of talking about it. 

Zen Terrelonge
Zen Terrelonge

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