A new article has outlined the way in which many organisations are still only making a token effort to recognise mental health in the workplace.
According to Andrew Berrie, employer programme manager at the Time to Change campaign, nine in 10 people who experience mental health problems report facing stigma and discrimination.
More than half say they experience that stigma the most at work, meaning many do not feel they can talk openly with their line manager.
This is indeed a shame. It also seems to go beyond a lack of understanding, with some managers being actively judgemental.
The article tells of a mindfulness class interrupted by a senior executive who walked in and said: “So, these are the people who can’t cope in my business.”
The whole exercise is therefore counter-productive.
While the business is ‘ticking a box’ by simply holding the class, there is no commitment whatsoever from the management and it is likely to make employees feel worse.
Most people will not be as bad as that. However, many managers still feel awkward and don’t know what to say if an employee comes to them with anything mental health-related.
This is because they do not possess the soft skills needed to offer that level of support. It can be remedied though, through training and greater awareness of the issues at hand.
Managers do not need to be surrogate life coaches or psychologists. They do, however, need to listen and be able to signpost employees to the places where they can receive help and support.
They also need to be able to see what reasonable adjustments can be put in place to help them at work.
Only then can an organisation claim to be truly ‘mindful’.
BounceBack offer several Mental Health First Aid courses to give managers the skills needed.