As Responsible Business Week comes to a close we take a look at the issue of mental health within the business environment and ask the following questions:

Does a stigma still exist around the subject of mental health?

Why are we afraid to talk about it?

What can be done to tackle some of the myths surrounding this subject?

Earlier this week I read a fascinating article in the Guardian surrounding the topic of mental health which really made me think about what we do in the U.K to understand this subject.

Did you know for example?

  • One in four adults in the U.K will experience a mental health condition in any given year?
  • Mental ill health in the workplace is anticipated to cost around £26 billion a year to U.K employers? –Working out to around £1,035 per person employed.
  • People are often scared to speak out about mental health issues in case it is seen as a weakness?

Over recent years organisations such as Mind have done an excellent job in raising awareness of mental health issues via campaigns such as Time to Change. Mind continues to educate people and challenge some of the perceptions often held in relation to mental health issues.

What are the barriers to change?

For me the biggest barrier to change when it comes to subjects such as mental health, disability awareness and equality is fear. Fear is often created by a lack of understanding or awareness and can mean that we stop ourselves from having a conversation and also from being able to offer the right support.

Education is the key to removing the fear of talking about this subject and so training your staff to be more tolerant and open minded can bring benefits to every business owner. If we consider that training is not just about imparting new skills or knowledge into your business but can also be a great opportunity to enhance relationships with co-workers then it is something that all businesses regardless of size or structure should take seriously.

What is the mechanism for change?

If we are to make a real difference to the level of understanding that both businesses and indeed society have around this subject then we need to create an environment of understanding and a mechanism for change. Over the past year our business has developed a range of e-learning packages which are accessible to both large businesses but also small to medium sized enterprises.

The market place for e-learning and online education continues to grow, for many businesses this can offer a cost effective solution which is easily rolled out to staff across various sites and locations.

Our aim is to make training affordable and available to all –It is through an approach like this that we can begin to help more people understand and become aware of subjects such as mental health.

We need to help people to understand that being open and honest about mental health should not be viewed as a weakness, people need to tackle some of the myths around subjects such as mental health and employers need to grasp not only what their responsibilities are but how the actions they take can create a positive and open atmosphere.Can I find out more?