Mental health awareness in the workplace has never been more important. In this time of unprecedented change, working from home, isolation, home schooling, health concerns, financial uncertainties and an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty all take their toll on our mental health and wellbeing. But let’s take a moment to remember the seven most important reasons for mental health awareness at work before and beyond COVID-19.


1. One in four will have a mental health condition

Of all the statistics about mental health you’re likely to hear, this is perhaps the most common. It’s the troubling fact that 1 in 4 of us will experience a Common Mental Disorder (CMD) at some point in our lives (NHS, 2014). That’s a quarter of the people you know at work. A quarter of your family. A quarter of… everyone.

Forget about COVID-19 for a minute. For the reason that 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health condition in our lifetimes, mental health should be a priority for your organisation. It’s not a fringe of people you are unlikely to ever meet. It’s the people all around you and possibly you yourself. Organisations just can’t afford to turn a blind eye when 25% of their workforce are likely to be affected by a mental health issue.

2. Every 40 seconds someone takes their own life

This is a big one. It’s probably the mental health statistic that shocks the most when we discuss it in our workshops. And it’s this – every 40 seconds, somebody, somewhere in the world, commits suicide. And for every completed suicide, there are 25 suicide attempts (International Association for Suicide Prevention, 2017). When I said earlier that there are so many mental health statistics it’s easy to forget them, this is the kind of statistic that we really shouldn’t be forgetting. Mental health issues have a real impact on individuals, their families, their friends and their colleagues. We shouldn’t lose sight of that. However, creating the right environment in an organisation can go a long way towards helping a person feel supported. It’s about breaking down stigma so that a person is comfortable discussing an issue and able to stop the situation escalating.

3. 57% of people would not talk about their mental health condition

Above, I mentioned that we need to break down stigma. Here’s why: it stops people talking about mental health. Do you know how many of us it prevents discussing our mental health? 57% of us. That’s well over half the population who would not discuss a mental health condition they were suffering from to anyone at all (Capita, 2015). Not family, a doctor, their friends and certainly not their manager.

In fact, 87% of employees would not feel comfortable disclosing a mental health condition to their line manager (Business in the Community, 2017). This is because employees fear discrimination in some way or are ashamed or embarrassed. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that if employees feel unable to disclose a mental health condition, then managers are unlikely to be able to help. Organisations should do everything they can to raise awareness and ensure that, as far as possible, employees can discuss issues with their manager and know they will be supported.

4. 24 days is the average sick leave absence

Another troubling mental health statistic is that, on average, sickness absence due to poor mental health lasts 24 days. This is far longer than the average for physical illnesses (Labour Force Survey, 2017). It makes sense then for organisations to focus on promoting good mental health. In our article on the financial costs of poor mental health to businesses, we explore just how much money is lost and what steps should be taken to bring the cost down.

5. 49% of work-related absences are mental health related

Given that there is a 24-day average for the length of time off, organisations should be concerned to hear that 49% of work-related absences are due to stress, anxiety or depression (Labour Force Survey, 2017). It makes good sense then for organisations to be proactive about tackling these issues.

6. 36% of employees have reported stress and employers have not helped

Another work related mental health statistic businesses should be concerned with is, thankfully, one they can do something about. 36% of employees have complained to their employer about stress in the past, but the employer has done nothing to help (Capita, 2017). Organisations should ensure that managers know how to manage levels of pressure effectively to reduce stress.

Organisations should also have a processes in place to help employees who feel they need support. Many organisations have Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), but employees or managers either forget about them or aren’t aware they’re available. It’s also possible that some managers hope the problem will go away because they’re not sure how to deal with it. Of course, the problem escalates and makes it harder to deal with later. It is important therefore, that managers are trained to handle complaints of stress effectively.

7. 31% would leave if stress levels didn’t improve

Finally, your organisation should be aware what employees are really thinking. Sadly, many of them think they should leave their jobs. When surveyed, 31% of staff said they would consider leaving their role within the next 12 months if stress levels din’t improve.

The prospect of staff leaving should concern an organisation, but actually it may be the people who stay who do more damage. The greatest cost to business from poor mental health is that of presenteeism. That’s people who turn up when they should have time off and don’t perform well as a result. This costs £26 billion each year compared to the £8 billion lost due to turnover. Financially then, it makes real sense to invest in promoting good mental health.

Organisations need to take action to prevent the huge human and financial cost…

As you can see, mental health awareness in the workplace is crucial for all organisations during this pandemic and beyond. Organisations need to take action to prevent the human and financial cost that comes from poor workplace mental health.

If you’re not convinced yet here’s one more mental health statistic as a bonus:

8. Mental health awareness in the workplace can realise a 4:1 return on investment

According to research by Deloitte (2017), for every £1 spent on mental health interventions companies can realise at least a £4.20 return. So investing in mental health is the right thing to do for both people and business.

Take action now to improve workplace mental health

Delphis offers webinars, workshops and online courses delivered and developed by highly educated business managers, academics and teachers. We are committed to guiding companies along the path to creating healthy, productive and rewarding working environments for their staff. The financial argument is compelling and caring for your employees is the right thing to do.

One major multi-national client has taken the right step by getting involved in our workshops:

“Very relevant and informative… engaging and inclusive style. Worth spending a whole day on… need to roll out to whole company… loved the takeaway workbook… pretty much perfect.”

Please get in touch to discuss how we can provide customised mental health training for your organisation that fits your needs.

Free workplace mental health awareness online course

We are confident you’ll love our approach to mental health awareness in the workplace. But if you need more convincing, take our 30-minute mental health awareness online course for free.

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