February 7, 2019

Time to Talk Day 2019 – Why it’s Important to Talk About Mental Health

Mental Health in the workplace. It might be something you haven’t had to deal with. You may even feel it isn’t a problem within your workplace. However, Research by the Time for Change Movement found that almost one in three people have experienced mental health problems while in employment.

Mental Health in the workplace – why it’s an important issue

It’s likely that some of your employees are experiencing mental health issues. Therefore, it’s an issue that you can’t afford to ignore.

Research by the Time for Change movement also found that that:

  • Mental ill-health is the leading cause of sickness absence in the UK. It costs an average of £1,035 per employee per year
  • 95% of employees calling in sick with stress gave a different reason for their absence
  • 48% said they would not talk to their employer about their mental health

The Time for Change research shows there is significant evidence that looking after the mental health of your employees makes business sense and increases productivity. Encouraging employees to talk about it can make a real difference to sickness absence rates, presenteeism levels, staff wellbeing and productivity. It also means that staff are more likely to seek support before reaching crisis point resulting in them being signed off sick for longer periods. By taking action now, staff will feel supported by their organisation which in turn increases retention levels.

Time to Talk Day

Time for Change organisation has launched ‘Time to Talk Day’ (Thursday 7 February 2019). One of their goals is to enable any type of organisation to create a working environment that is supportive and understanding towards those experiencing mental health problems.

The aim of ‘Time to Talk Day’ is to get as many people as possible across the country talking about mental health. By joining together on one day, it aims to break the silence that often surrounds mental health. It shows that talking about this once taboo issue doesn’t need to be difficult.

The goal is to make mental health a normal topic of conversation within your organisation by dispelling myths and making it easier for people to seek support. For example, employees should be able to say “I’m struggling”, “I’m working too much” or “I need support” in the workplace without the fear of negative consequences. Making time for an employee or colleague is a really easy way to make a difference to someone’s day. If you’ve noticed a colleague is down, or more stressed than usual, being there for them can make a big difference.

How to encourage employees to change the way they think about mental health

Talking about something as sensitive as mental health can feel like a daunting task. One that you’re not really qualified to do. However, there are lots of other organisations in the same position as you.

Taking action can be as simple as having an informal conversation with each person in your team. Ten minutes, two cups of tea, no pressure. You could also run lunch and learn sessions about mental health. Alternatively you could arrange ‘walk and talk’ events to encourage colleagues to get outside and have conversations. The choice is yours. Every activity, no matter how big or small it may seem, is important. It’s a significant contribution towards the collective goal of getting colleagues to change the way they think and act about mental health.

The Time to Change website is full of useful information and resources on how you might start your journey and the kinds of activities you can do with your employees in order to open up the initial conversation.

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About the author

Donna Chadbone

Donna completed her post graduate studies in Human Resource Management (MCIPD) and then spent 7 years working as an in house HR Consultant in the corporate financial services sector. She has worked with a range of clients from the engineering, aerospace, manufacturing, service, leisure, education, construction and care industries.