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Employers increasingly understand the importance of employee wellbeing and the role they play in supporting this. This week New Zealand became the first country to design its budget based on wellbeing priorities. We explore the importance of addressing mental health in the workplace and the collective responsibility of one for all.

Workplace Mental Health

Almost nine in 10 workers are affected by mental health in some capacity, yet only 14 per cent of workers feel comfortable talking about the issue.

Mental health problems are a growing public health concern. Mental health problems are a key driver of overall disease worldwide, driving depression, anxiety and drug use, with almost 50 per cent of employees having experienced a mental health problem in their current job (according to @heads_together).

Working conditions, and the environment this creates, hugely impact mental health and an individual’s ability to perform well in the workplace. There has been a huge drive to talk about the issues involved and elevate its position to the same importance as physical health at work for employers.

At Paydata, we recently conducted a survey asking whether organisations had a dedicated budget for mental health programmes in their business and whether they had delivered mental health workshops in the last 12 months – 80 per cent said yes, illustrating the greater awareness and steps employers are taking to address this issue

The Cost of Mental Health

According to the Mental Health Foundation, failure to tackle mental health in the workplace is estimated to cost UK employers £34.9 billion a year due to reduced productivity, sickness absence and staff turnover. The individual cost per employee to the organisation equates to £1,300, illustrating the cost benefits of taking a proactive approach from the outset. The estimated cost per employee to put these proactive programmes of tailored information, training and tools in place is £80 per year, highlighting the financial benefit to organisations to make this issue a priority.

Given that in 2016 only 13 per cent of employees felt able to disclose a mental health issue to their line manager and three quarters chose not to involve any one at work, promoting an environment where this can be addressed openly to avoid the negative long-term consequences is critical. Ensuring that everyone is aware of the warning signs to look out for is the critical first step in building a healthy organisation.

Mental Health on CEO’s Agendas

Mental health is increasingly making its way onto C-Suite agendas given the duty of care employers have towards their employees. Organisations increasingly identify what training, tools and support they require that fit with their own values and culture to make mental health programmes for the long-term.

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With only 24 per cent of managers receiving mental health training, this is something that needs to be more widely available. Greater support will enable managers to fulfil what 84 per cent of them accept is their responsibility (Mental Health at Work 2017).

Read more about the inter-relationship between financial wellbeing and mental health and find out how to support both within your workplace. If you have any questions, we always welcome the opportunity to discuss this further – get in touch with us today.

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