How can Employers and Employees Deal with Mental Health Problems in the Workplace?

Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by The Workplace AdvisorNo comments

May 14th to 20th marked the UK’s mental health awareness week, so we’ve been talking about mental health in the workplace. According to recent figures, 42% of employees who call in sick report that it’s for a physical illness—when it’s actually for a mental health issue such as stress, anxiety, or depression. At our top London recruitment agency, we want all employees to feel able to be honest to their employers about mental health issues, so we’ll look at how to deal with mental health issues for both employees and employers.

Are mental health issues that prevalent?

The study found that 56% of employees are suffering with stress, 36% with anxiety, and 25% with depression. That’s over half of the workforce! Of those, only 15% would admit this to their boss. And for the average UK worker, this equates to 8.4 days off sick a year. For employers, this also means decreased productivity, happiness, and retention rates.

Why aren’t employees speaking up?

The study by health and wellbeing provider BHSF gave some insights into the reasons why employees aren’t speaking up: 27% of workers feel that there is still a stigma around mental health issues, 24% worry that it means they wouldn’t be taken seriously, and 36% feared what their colleagues would think. What’s more, only 21% of employers offer mental health support to their staff.

What can employers do?

For employers, the workforce is their biggest asset—so they need to look after their staff and take responsibility for improving workplace wellbeing. And this means for everyone—from those in receptionist jobs to the senior managers, the CEO to the top PAs. Employers also need to promote a culture of openness and acceptance, where staff can talk about mental health issues and be listened to without fear of being ridiculed or ostracised.

What can employers offer?

Employers need to proactively offer support early on, when managers first notice the problem. This may involve training managers to spot problems. It may mean hiring a mental health first aider or providing mental health training to mangers and staff. Some businesses offer dedicated “wellbeing” days off for their employees. It could mean offering flexible working options to ensure staff have a good work-life balance. For long-term mental health problems, employers could offer to pay for healthcare costs to support employees.

What can employees do?

If you’re an employee suffering from a mental health issue, the important thing is not to suffer in silence. First of all, remember that your employer has a duty of care to look after you, and they want you to be at your best! If you feel comfortable, talk to your manager about what you’re experiencing, as they may be able to offer help and support. It helps to have somebody to talk to, so you might also want to tell your colleagues. If it’s a long-term or significant problem, speak to your GP.

What can employees do on a day-to-day basis?

On a daily basis, you should look after yourself as best you can. Outside of work, get plenty of fresh air, eat healthily, spend time with loved ones, and ensure you’re getting sufficient sleep, relaxation, and exercise. At work, whether you work in a PA job or an office support role, set yourself small daily goals, try to stay positive, stick to a routine, and keep your desk and inbox clutter-free.

For more information on workplace wellbeing, stay tuned to the Love Success blog. If you want to find out about temporary or permanent PA jobs or office support jobs in London that would be perfect for you, get in touch.


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