Insights from the Priory: Why mental health at work is a hot topic
Mental health at work is a hot topic nowadays because it has such far-reaching consequences for both people and productivity.
Our jobs probably have the biggest impact on our psyche after immediate family, according to consultant psychiatrist Dr Paul McLaren. No wonder they affect our mental health.
PES teamed up with the Priory in London to host two exciting wellbeing seminars on this important subject. Dr McLaren was joined by fellow consultant psychiatrist Dr Jaya Gowrisunkur, psychologist and mindfulness expert Christos Papalekas, and sleep coach Beatrix Schmidt. PES workplace wellbeing expert Debbie Kleiner-Gaines also explained how to develop an effective workplace wellbeing strategy.
Here we share some highlights from Dr McLaren’s presentation.
Workplace distress is implicated in at least 15% of occupational disability claims, making it a 21st century epidemic. Workaholism is a common cause. The most ‘toxic’ occupations are considered to be healthcare, financial services and the police, where the risk of suicide increases.
Anxiety, panic, depression
Three common mental disorders repeatedly top the occupational stress list – anxiety, panic and depression.
Anxiety can include phobias, and may or may not involve actual panic attacks. Women are two to three times more likely to experience panic attacks than men. Many people are sceptical about panic attacks but they are very real. The good news is that those affected should respond well to treatment if the problem is recognised and accepted by employers.
Depression involves much more than low mood. It can mean poor concentration, irritability, and loss of enjoyment of things that normally give pleasure. Around one in four people will seek help for depression at any time – how many of your own workforce might be affected?
Recognise the signs
How do you know if someone is suffering mental distress at work? Look out for uncharacteristic mistakes, expressions of unhappiness, absenteeism or passive-aggressive behaviour. Loss of motivation or confidence may indicate distress.
What can employers do?
Mental ill-health among employees needn’t be debilitating. Employers can learn to spot the signs early and give an appropriate response – this is the key to success.
Training in mental health awareness and resilience will help employers, managers and colleagues understand the issues. Enlightened employers are going one step further and training staff to become mental health first aiders, who are able to offer immediate support and provide sources of referral if needed.
Be a good employer
If work is a source of stress then employers should take action to improve employee wellbeing. Here are some of the things that create occupational stress. If you recognise these in your organisation, it may be time to take action.
- Working long hours
- Work overload and pressure
- Lack of control
- Lack of participation in decision-making
- Unclear management and work roles
- Not enough social support
- Poor feedback and communication
Get expert help
Take a look at our interactive diagram on what makes a positive employee experience for more ideas. If you’re not sure where to start in implementing change, our experts are here to help. Contact us if you want to know more!
Delivering a great employee experience is a challenge for growing organisations. At PES, it’s what we do. Our online employee benefits platform, HR support and workplace wellbeing services bring out the best in your employees – enabling your business to thrive.
Call us on 01454 808658 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.