Mental Health At Work

Employee mental health problems have become increasingly common in recent years, and employers have a huge responsibility in bettering systems and procedures in order to increase support.

What Causes Poor Mental Health at Work?

Employers have a key role to play when it comes to mental wellbeing, particularly when considering the current mental health crisis within the UK workforce.

Safe and healthy work environments are vital in promoting good mental health in employees, and minimising risks and triggers should be a priority.

As well as being a fundamental right, a good work environment can help minimise the incidence of mental ill health in employees, and conversely, a bad work environment can exacerbate existing mental health conditions or even cause them, becoming extremely detrimental.

Employee mental health problems can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Conflict at work

  • Absence of effective structures

  • A lack of support

  • A heavy workload or an intense work schedule

  • Workplace harassment or bullying

  • Lack of benefits

  • Having no career progression opportunities

  • A culture that promotes stigma or enables negative behaviour

  • Poor management

  • Long, antisocial or inflexible hours

  • Understaffing

  • Lack of control over one’s role or duties

  • Inadequate physical work conditions

  • Authoritarian supervision

  • Discrimination or exclusion

  • Job insecurity

  • Inadequate pay

  • Poor work/life balance

It is vital that employers put workplace mental health support resources in place to change harmful practices and processes, protect the mental health of their employees and prevent incidents from occurring.

“My Job Is Making Me Ill”: Achieving Workplace Wellbeing

Poor mental health at work should not be ignored – if left unaddressed, it could lead to issues such as severe increases in stress levels, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and in extreme cases, even cause people to take their own lives.

To implement positive change and minimise the risk of employee mental health problems, business leaders can focus on specific areas:

  • Creating a culture that supports openness about mental health

  • Treating mental health like physical health

  • Reducing stigma and discrimination

  • Training managers and HR teams on how to talk to someone experiencing a mental health problem

  • Training team members on how recognise the signs that someone in struggling or support someone experiencing a mental health crisis

  • Being able to put adjustments in place (practical or otherwise) for individuals who are struggling

  • Knowing how to manage employees returning to work after being signed off due to a mental health issue

  • Devising an effective and comprehensive workplace wellbeing strategy

There are workplace mental health support resources that can be implemented to facilitate this, including:

  • Mental Health First Aid training

  • Suicide First Aid training

  • Mental health webinars

  • Face-to-face or virtual mental health awareness training

  • Specialised mental health training courses for individual teams (such as HR and SLT)

  • Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs)

Dealing with Difficult Circumstances

There are particular work-related situations that may cause individuals to struggle with poor mental health:

Hybrid & Remote Working

Working remotely or in a hybrid role may cause some to struggle with loneliness, communication challenges, overworking and more, increasing the risk of mental health issues arising.
Red Umbrella - Lady in red.

Mental Health & Management

Those in management positions might be faced with greater pressure to perform, conflict with team members and difficult decisions, leading many to develop mental health issues as a result.
Red Umbrella - Group Working Together.

Redundancy & Life Changes

Dealing with redundancy is a particularly challenging situation, causing potentially severe damage to individuals’ mental health and even affect those close to them.

Coping with Job Burnout

Job burnout can affect anyone, regardless of their role, their age and the industry they work in. It can lead to high levels of stress, anxiety about work, depression and more. However, certain mental health conditions can also increase the chances of someone suffering burnout at work.

Spotting the Signs

  • Dreading going to work or performing your daily tasks

  • Feeling removed from your job or environment

  • Failing to feel a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment

  • Lacking energy or patience and finding it hard to focus

Addressing Burnout

  • Consult a medical professional about your symptoms

  • Consider looking for employment elsewhere

  • Discuss your options with your manager

  • Reduce exposure to stressors

If you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health condition or suicidal thoughts and is in need of immediate help, there are resources available: