Today (10th October) is World Mental Health Day. Organised by the World Health Organisation every year, the day aims to raise awareness and understanding of mental health, this year with a focus on suicide preventation.
Every 40 seconds, someone loses their life to suicide, and the World Health Organisation is encouraging peple to take up "40 seconds of action" to help improve awareness of the global public health problem, improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide, reduce the stigma associated with suicide, and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, one in seven people experience mental health problems in the workplace, with 13% of all sickness absence days in the UK being attributed to mental health conditions. By providing better mental health support in the workplace, businesses could save up to £8 billion per year.
As an employer or manager, you might want to take 40 seconds to formulate a positive message of support to your employees; this might be to encourage workers to open up or to let them know about the resources available to them at work and in the local area. Or if you work for a business you think could be doing more around improving its mental health work, you might want to spend 40 seconds writing an email, composing an audio clip, or recording a video to let them know the action you want them to take on suicide prevention and mental health.
Workspace design and mental wellbeing
There are also ways in which the workspace environment can positively impact the mental wellbeing of your employees. The average person over a third of their life at work, so it should come as no surprise that the workplace can have a significant impact on their mental wellbeing.
A well-designed office space can make employees feel happier and more productive at work. This can be as simple as increasing the amount of natural light that's let in or making sure the office is at a comfortable temperature to reduce the number of stresses on the body.
One major factor that is worth considering around workspace design is the creation of different spaces for different types of working. You might want to think about providing space for people to work in teams, so that they don't disturbing others around them; or having designated breakout spaces for people to step away and recharge. Studies have shown that breakout spaces can help to not only improve colleagues' wellbeing, but also their productivity and creativity.
It's okay to talk
Often people may not feel comfortable talking about their mental health problems, which can lead to further problems later down the line. By creating an environment where colleagues feel comfortable discussing their feelings, you are helping to break the stigma attached to mental health.
When supporting a colleague through times of ill mental health, it's important to help them to find ways to recover, and stay well, and ensure that the workplace is a safe and pleasant place for them to be. By creating a workplace culture which is authentic and open, you will go a long way to supporting people with mental health problems, and it's vital that this environment is led from the top of your business.
Over the last few years, more and more people are opening up and having brave and honest conversations about mental health. While a huge amount has been done to raise awareness and understanding, there is still so much we can all do to support ourselves and each other. World Mental Health Day 2019 is supported by the International Association for Suicide Prevention and United for Global Mental Health. Both organisations, along with the World Health Organisation, have informative and insightful resources to help you better support the people around you.
To help our customers and colleagues with their mental health, we've arranged a series of events, talks and workshops across our regions. If you're a customer and would like to find out more, head to the Collective or speak to your Community Engagement Manager who will be able to give you all the details. This is a crucial part of our purpose of creating thriving cities, ensuring that we are supporting our communities to live healthier and happier lifestyles.