Senior staff have a critical role to play in addressing issues of mental health in the workplace and need to be more open about issues they’ve faced, according to new research.
RedArc — now owned by Punter Southall Health & Protection — says if managers who are more transparent about their own problems with anxiety, stress and depression, this can “empower” employees suffering similar problems, and demonstrates mental health problems isn’t a barrier to doing well at work.
According to research from the Chartered Management Institute as many as one in 10 managers have taken sick leave for stress and mental health problems.
Historically many may have been reluctant to discuss this in the workplace, for fear of being questioned about their suitability. However RedArc says bosses should be more vocal, especially as many employees may not understand or see the pressures they are under.
RedArc Nurses managing director Christine Husbands says: “Mental health doesn’t discriminate by seniority, and being honest and open about these issues serves two purposes.
“First of all it is one of the most direct ways to reduce the workplace stigma around mental health and secondly it shows that having a mental health issue isn’t the end of a career.”
RedArc says this can also encourage employees to be more aware of their own mental health and to seek earlier intervention for problems. This can help prevent issues escalating into something more serious. RedArc’s experience shows that mental health problems are much more easily supported if they are identified as early as possible.
Husbands adds::“This is also an excellent way to lead on to conversations about what support is available via the employer – be that building resilience via self-help techniques and apps or accessing specialist mental health support.
“When the boss opens up about their own emotional wellbeing it is seen as giving permission for all staff do the same, allowing employers to provide support and encouragement in helping staff work through their problems and be the best they can in the workplace.”