Stress and mental health are and will always be tied. It’s part of how humans tick – the more pressure we feel, the closer we are to a metaphorical explosion. With the topic garnering nation-wide debate, several employers have tried taking on the title of “mental health eradicator” – alongside attempts of hoarding the “world domination” crown. No lies, you know you want it! But it’s a tricky task to handle alone, so why not impart the skills to tackle mental health issues to the management team?
More specifically, we mean line managers. Who better to spot early signs of breakdown than those of management who talk with staff more regularly. After all – we’re going to cite some research here – the cost of stress-related absence to the UK economy is an estimated £6.5bn a year, according to the CIPD. Essentially, 31 per cent of your staff (and bosses included) have experienced mental health problems whilst in employment.
The emphasis on giving line managers the skills to tackle mental health problems isn’t an uncommon one. But Beate O’Neil, head of wellbeing consulting at Punter Southall Health and Protection recently claimed there was much to be done on that front. “Despite constantly being in contact wit staff, line managers are often unaware of the best way to manage an employee with a mental illness,” O’Neil said. “This means employees may not feel comfortable talking to them and be in the dark about any employer-funded support services that might be available.
“If line managers were better trained and had the resources to proactively manage employee mental health problems, and ensure the right support, it would reduce long term absences and tackle some of the stigma around mental illness. The current strain on the NHS, in terms of funding and availability of treatment for mental illness, means it’s more important than ever for employers to take a proactive approach in managing mental health.”
With that in mind, here are a few ways you can impart crucial skills to tackle mental health issues to your line managers.
Use the free stuff – there are many services you can take advantage of
The government’s Fit for Work service, for example, is an occupational health service at the ready. All employers in England and Wales can refer an employee who has been off work for four weeks or more for a free assessment. The advice part of the service can be used by anyone in employment and is another avenue for line managers to get support and advice.
Continue for more tips on tackling mental health issues.Image:ShutterstockBy Shané Schutte
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