It’s World Mental Health Day. What of it?

It’s World Mental Health Day. What of it?

This is the sixth year that the World Health Organization has observed a World Mental Health Day on the 10th October. The first was back in 2013 and every year it focuses on one area that it wants to address. Last year, it highlighted ‘mental health in the workplace’. Clearly, it’s on the world health organization’s agenda as something of importance. Good. It should be.

It’s why we always read any associated research that’s published with great interest. Ahead of World Mental Health Day, Robert Walters has released results from its latest survey, that interviewed 1,200 professionals and hiring managers. From an employers’ perspective, it explores the strategies they adopt to support the mental health of their staff. From a professionals’ point of view, it looks into how employers communicate their mental health policies to both current employees and in their recruitment process.

It’s worth a read.

On the plus side, it’s clear that attitudes are changing (and as the World Health Organisation has only brought mental health to the world stage for the last six years that’s got to be positive). However, the top line is that there are disparities between what professionals want and what employers are offering.

The most dramatic is probably exemplified by the fact that only half of UK employers have a mental health policy in place, whilst 97% of professionals believe their employer has a responsibility to support the mental health and well-being of staff. What’s more, 74% of professionals ranked the ‘support for staff returning from (mental health related) absence’ highly, whilst only 50% of companies provide this. And whilst strategies such as remote working, which are widely offered by employers (71%), are considered less important in terms of contributing to mental wellbeing by professionals (60%).

The report also pointed out that hiring managers have been slow to react to the 88% of professionals who stated that the mental health policies of a potential employer was important when looking for a new role. Just 3% of companies mention their mental wellbeing strategies in job adverts.

And 42% of professionals admitted to seeking out information about a prospective employer’s mental wellbeing strategies via review sites, with a majority of professionals (64%) saying it was ‘difficult’ to find such information on a company website.

Obviously, that’s not all the paper says. There’s lots more aside and a quite a lot of it is positive. More and more employers are adopting policies targeted at addressing mental health in the workplace. And whilst there’s still a way to go, as the topic of mental health is normalised and the stigma around it reduces, we are moving forward.  Yet there’s still more to be done. We’re looking forward to 2020, 2025 and 2030, to see just how far we’ll have hopefully come.

Neil Morgan, Associate Director at Robert Walters said, “Professionals believe (62%) that training for managers as mental health ‘first aiders’ is important – but our research found that only 38% of companies have such a policy in place.

“While formal policies are an important part of an effective mental health strategy, this should not be seen as a tick box exercise for companies. Professionals place a great deal of value on having managers who are aware of this as a general priority and have the capacity to address it effectively.”

James Murray, Director at Robert Walters said, “Our survey revealed that over three quarters (76%) of professionals would be ‘uncomfortable’ discussing mental health at their place of work, for fear of damaging their career prospects. This is a major red flag and employers need to step up and consider how prominent a role they can play in encouraging their staff to be more open.

“By taking a proactive approach and leading by example, senior managers can play a key role in helping to develop the culture of their company to encourage discussion of mental wellbeing.”

If you want to take a look at it in more detail, please see The important of mental health strategies in attracting top talent.


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

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