Given how much time people spend at work (usually about half our waking hours during the week), we probably should be thinking and talking more about mental health at work. Few small to medium-sized companies pay much attention to this topic, feeling that employees should just come to work, do their jobs, and be easy to work with.
Usually the reality is much different.
That’s why it’s great to see Britain’s Prince William addressing this issue head-on with a new website in the U.K., Mental Health at Work, that acts as a clearinghouse to better understand mental health at work. It’s a great effort and one I’m happy to highlight today.
Earlier this month, the U.K. charity Mind released the results of its workplace survey finding that half of workers have experienced a mental health problem in their current job. That’s an eye-opening statistic and should be cause for concern by most employers.
[…M]ore than 44,000 employees also revealed that only half of those who had experienced poor mental health had talked to their employer about it, suggesting that as many as one in four UK workers is struggling in silence.
Talking to your employer about your mental health is not always recommended, as varying employers will have different levels of sensitivity to the issue. In some jobs, there may be little they could do even if you did talk to them about it. In other jobs, acknowledging mental health concerns may get you suspended — or even fired (although that’s against U.S. employment laws; some employers get around the laws by claiming diminishing work performance without mention of the mental health concern).
But you shouldn’t ignore your mental health at work, either, or try to sweep it under the rug.
If you’re being bullied, feel stressed-out by a boss’s inappropriately aggressive or sexual behavior, or haven’t found productive ways to deal with disagreeable co-workers, you need to take action. For some, that may mean trying to work it out directly with the individual who’s causing you stress. If ineffective, it may mean taking it up a level to a supervisor or boss, to try and work it out amicably.
Sometimes, however, we can’t actually change much about our work situation or environment (outside of changing jobs or companies, which may not always be easy or possible). If that’s the case, you can still change how you approach work and how you deal with the stress it causes in your life. This may mean roping in your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP, if your company has one), a free service that offers (usually confidential, but check first) counseling to an employee. If an EAP isn’t an option, you can also consider talking to a therapist (either face-to-face or online, right now).
Mental Health at Work Website
The new website features a variety of content and resources for people who are looking to better navigate mental health at work:
Collections of resources from other websites that can give you a good sense of the topic, which range from workplace stress and dealing with stress in specific types of workplaces (such as the financial sector, emergency services, volunteer organizations, etc.), to tips for managers on how to promote a positive culture.
Currently 133 specific resources are listed here, as are specific articles that may help you learn more about supporting mental health in the workplace. You can filter resources by type, workplace sector, type of workplace setting, or the role you hold at the workplace.
- Case Studies and Blog
These areas of the website are more sparse, but may offer valuable case studies and additional information and updates in the months to come.
This new effort builds upon Prince William’s previous work for a mental health campaign called “Heads Together.” Launched in 2016 with his brother, Prince Harry, that campaign continues and offers additional mental health resources for people at all stages in life.
The more we continue the conversation about our mental health, the more we reduce the discrimination and prejudice that can still be found in society today.
Learn more: Mental Health at Work