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2020 Trend: Mental Health and the Workplace
Posted on Mon, 2019-12-23 14:16 by Chris Carr, Senior Workplace Consultant
I am the fly in the ointment. I am going to be controversial and say that, while I am writing a piece on workplace trends for 2020, it is in fact misguided. It is “misguided” in the sense that it shouldn’t be considered as a trend. Good mental health and positive mental wellbeing in the workplace should not be a trend; it should be a building block, like good Wi-Fi or not having Abba’s Greatest Hits on the office Spotify every single day.
Back to mental health. Organisations want a happy workforce because a happy workforce will generally be more engaged and potentially more productive. It’s a sound business decision. It is in the organisation’s interest to keep the worker bees happy (or at least content). There is no denying that all organisations should provide the appropriate support mechanisms for those who do experience mental health issues, whether it is as a result of their personal life or work life. It’s one of HR’s main functions to support the employees and to act accordingly when a situation with an employee arises.
For those who are normally blessed with good mental health, when something goes wrong it can be a shock to the system and there can then be a ‘fight or flight’ reaction. Fight in this sense hopefully means seeking appropriate help. Flight might be a tendency to put on a brave face and to disguise the symptoms. There is still a stigma around mental health issues (even though research indicates that up to 1 in 4 of us will experience mental health issues in the next 12 months).
Mental health in the workplace should be as important as physical health. Free fruit, walking meetings, cycle to work schemes etc. all contribute towards keeping our bodies healthy. What can organisations do to elevate the importance of mental health in the workplace? For a start they can promote mental health awareness regularly, organisations can also get some of their employees trained up as mental health champions. One of the best things individuals can do is talk. Talk to your line manager, talk to your colleagues. Talk to your workplace mental health champion; it’s free and it might address the problem.
2020 should not be the year of addressing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. We should be doing it every year.