Exploring mental health in the workplace
While there are some progressive organisations that factor the mental wellbeing of their employees into their long-term plans, many organisations are yet to take an active stance in this arena. Think about the place where you work – would you feel comfortable taking a day off, citing mental health symptoms as a reason, perhaps by saying “I’m too depressed/anxious to come in today” – or would you simply say you’re suffering from a severe headache or the flu instead?
That’s just one litmus test for how progressive a company can be when it comes to the topic of mental health. In this article, we’re going to explore how different companies handle the mental wellbeing of their employees and we’re going to examine the many fine lines people are having to tread – especially in regards to when we’re being caring versus being invasive and not respecting another’s privacy.
Better mental wellbeing, better bottom line
According to research conducted by mind.org.uk, when a company’s culture has stigma associated with mental health issues, it can cost a company financially. Interestingly, in a recent survey they conducted, 30% of staff felt they wouldn’t be able to talk openly about the stress associated with their jobs. Furthermore, 56% of employers said they want to do more to improve staff wellbeing, but don’t feel like they have the right training or guidance.
At the Chelsea Psychology Clinic, we can offer guidance through strategic consulting services designed specifically to help business leaders ensure that their organisation meets, and actively provides for, the mental wellbeing of their people.
From our experience, we’ve helped many organisations shift and rethink mental wellbeing, by bringing it onto the agenda of corporate governance schemes or influencing staff policies and programmes. While it can be hard to quantify in precise numbers the benefits that accumulate as a result of working with us, we can certainly list the many benefits to look out for over the long-term that are likely to result from improving your corporation’s culture:
- reduced self burn-out
- less employee churn
- engaged staff who execute tasks to plan the first time
- cohesion amongst staff, reduced politics
- greater synergy within teams and amongst teams
- less pressure on individuals to be superhuman
- increased co-operation, team spirit, connectedness
- increased feel-good factors, meaning and purpose in the workplace
What organisations are doing well at the moment
There are many organisations and top executives who are blazing trails in this arena, working hard to lift the stigma around mental health. Corporate initiatives like Minds at Work are providing a professional platform for top executives to discuss the challenges of steering corporate cultures in the direction of positive change.
Highly progressive organisations are creating board level positions specifically designed to create systemic change around mental health and wellbeing. For example, Vayner Media, a New York based media agency that’s home to approximately 800 staff, has appointed Claude Silver as their Chief Heart Officer – a position devised to maintain cultural excellence throughout all levels of the organisation. And Mediacom here in London, is another great organisation that has committed to improving mental wellbeing throughout their organisation by appointing Mental Health Ambassadors to guide cultural change going forward.
Then there’s Arianna Huffington, author and co-founder of the Huffington Post, who has had a substantial impact on promoting the importance of mental health within our daily working lives through her innovative media platform and books. In a recent Google Talk by Arianna, her purpose in the broader context of steering the conversation around corporate culture, is all about helping us become more personal and real with each other, while building “a path forward for our lives that is more sustainable, and less fuelled by burnout, sleep deprivation and exhaustion.”
However, there’s still a long way to go
While great progress is being made, as ever, the corporate world is still very much in flux due to so many factors. Improvements in technology are changing the landscape of corporate cultures all over the world – and it seems that everyone is navigating some kind of change in relation to how they work, where they work and what they want out of their working lives.
From our experience of working strategically with organisations, we’ve discovered that certain well-intended measures that corporations use to address the challenges surrounding mental health, sometimes simply don’t work. While a company may have constructed meditation pods or offer their staff ‘duvet days’, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are championing good mental health throughout their organisation.
What’s needed is a shift in how we approach the topic in our day-to-day lives. While change is needed in corporate cultures all around the world, it’s also needed in the collective consciousness as a whole. As we evolve in our thinking on this topic, the improvements we collectively discover will spur us on to keep making improvements in our mental health – the natural outcome of which is higher productivity, greater efficiency and people who feel satisfied with the contributions they make through their careers.
We’ve helped countless organisations and corporations achieve massive improvements to how their internal culture handles mental health challenges/mental wellbeing. If you would like to discuss how we can help your organisation change for the better, then please do contact us for a confidential chat.