International Day of Happiness

More support is needed for staff in workplaces to combat the rising mental health crisis in the UK, a key issue to spotlight on International Day of Happiness.

A change in our approach is needed if we are to transform what is quickly becoming a dangerous new status quo. But how can this be done effectively?

Here, we explore the importance of putting the right resources in place to support those who are struggling with their mental health at work, and how employers can do so effectively.

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The link between happiness and health

Studies consistently show that happy individuals live longer, are healthier and can combat stress more effectively, and in the workplace, they have been proven to be more productive, more engaged and therefore more successful.

However, recent figures show a decline in rates of personal happiness, life satisfaction and overall mental health and wellbeing in the UK.

Happiness and health are inherently linked, which makes happiness an incredibly powerful piece of the puzzle. But how do we create happier workforces?

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The workplace mental health crisis

A highly alarming mental health crisis is sweeping the nation, also highlighting the inverse relationship between mental health severity and happiness levels.

Poor mental health has been shown to be one of the main reasons young people are out of work, with mental ill health costing the UK economy at least £118 billion a year and 18 million days per year lost.

A change in our approach is needed to make an impact, to avoid remaining stuck in what is quickly becoming a harmful new status quo.

However, there’s still a substantial issue with stigma surrounding mental health in many workplaces, despite newer generations becoming more open and willing to discuss mental health.

Many are afraid to speak up for fear of being judged or penalised for opening up about their struggles, which goes to show that we are still not treating mental health the same way we are treating physical health.

Much as with a physical wound, if left untreated or ignored mental health issues deteriorate. And stigma is forcing many to remain quiet until their mental health issues get much worse – to the point where they become unfit for work.

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How do we implement long-lasting positive change?

Change in workplaces must start from the top, from the business leaders within an organisation, who should implement impactful, value-driven change within their business.

Many employers may be starting from scratch when it comes to providing mental health support, or may be providing benefit packages with ineffective or inadequate resources.

It’s not just about having resources in place – this way of thinking could easily lead to complacency. It’s about ensuring that these resources are having a positive impact on your workforce.

However, if reliable support systems are available, but they are not being used or talked about, the issue may be around workplace culture.

Nurturing environments where people can be open about their struggles is key to reducing stigma and making staff feel safer and more comfortable, and therefore happier.

The benefits of a happier workforce – both to the business and to the individual – have been widely known for years now, though many employers are still failing to do what’s necessary to facilitate this.

An open conversation about mental health in the workplace is vital, making employees feel like they can talk about what they are experiencing and showing them that help is available, should they need it.

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The importance of having the right resources in place

Equally, there have to be people in a workplace that are equipped with the knowledge to help those who may be experiencing poor mental health, much like physical first aiders.

Mental Health First Aid is a reliable solution to building happier teams. Individuals are trained to identify early signs of mental health issues, and how to act in response.

Knowledge is power, and when it comes to mental health, being trained and aware can help ensure people are guided towards the appropriate resources or professional help, helping prevent existing issues from escalating.

MHFA training also contributes to the creation of a culture of understanding, empathy and solidarity, which is what all workplaces should be aiming towards to combat the surge in mental health illness.

Offering this type of training to employees shows them that their needs are being taken into account, and that their employer is actively investing in their health, factors of utmost importance in creating a happier workforce.

For more information on Mental Health First Aid training and other resources to support employees, please get in touch.

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