COVID-19 predicted to have a big impact on employee mental health
Essex, UK, 7th March 2021, ZEXPRWIRE – The rise of the Mental Health First Aider
According to the HSE (2019) work relates stress, depression, and anxiety accounts for 44% of work-related ill health and 54% of working days lost and this was in 2018/2019 long before anyone had ever heard of coronavirus! As well as sickness absence, poor mental health can cause higher staff turnover and lower productivity.
With the world looking to return to ‘normal’ and many employees (who may have previously been enjoying WFH) being expected to return to their daily commute and time in the office there are fears that this may trigger an increase in poor mental health amongst the working population. A study last year by the Mental Health and Income commission found that 3 in 10 people were anxious about returning to the office and 4 in 10 already with mental health conditions expressing concern that they might get worse on return.
So, what can an employer do to manage this potential rise is mental health concerns amongst their workforce. Well, there are a few steps including:
Getting senior leaders onboard with promoting mental wellness at work.
Training senior managers in mental health
Encourage colleagues to treat each other with respect.
Encouraging a healthy work/life balance
TRAINING AND APPOINTING MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AIDERS
All employers in the UK must provide provision of first aiders for medical emergencies around physical health, however many employers are now taking a proactive approach and training and appointing one or more Mental Health First Aiders within their organization.
The role of a MHFA is not to diagnose mental health conditions (after all that is hard enough for trained professionals to do!) but to recognize that someone is in distress with their mental health and support and encourage them to seek appropriate help to improve their conditions and to suggest any reasonable adjustments that an employer can make to improve the person’s mental health (such as flexible working hours for example). The great thing about mental health first aid training is that it is usually low-cost with only a couple of days required to complete the training.
It is often the small investments in time and money that have the biggest impact!
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