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Making mental health and wellbeing a priority

Today, 1 in 6 employees in the UK are affected by mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression and stress, while more than 1 in 5 have called in sick to avoid work due to the effect of stress.

There is still a genuine taboo surrounding mental health - 30% of UK staff feel unable to talk openly about stress with their line manager - and it can be difficult for managers to identify colleagues who are struggling in order to support them.

Male and female colleagues sit round a board table

Furthermore, 56 per cent of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff wellbeing but don't feel they have the right training or guidance.

Impact on the bottom line

As an employer, you have a duty of care to look after your employees' wellbeing. When you’re open about the importance of supporting your employees’ mental health, there are multiple clear benefits:

  • The workplace becomes a great, happy place to be, which is in turn is attractive to potential talent
  • Similarly, your best people want to stay, and staff turnover reduces
  • Motivation among your teams increase and their productivity and output improves
  • Absences for mental health related issues are fewer

By not addressing the human impact of mental health the impact on your company's bottom line can be substantial.

According to the ‘Thriving at Work’ report, the UK faces a significant mental challenge at work and the annual cost of poor mental health to businesses, which includes presenteeism (low employee productivity due to mental health), absences and staff turnover, is between £33bn and £42bn.

Brown haired man in a white t-shirt looks stressed while working on his laptop

Making mental health a priority

Supporting staff should be at forefront of every manager and business leader's mind. Here are 4 ways you can support your employees' mental health, making it a priority in your business.


1. Pledge to change

The first step is to want to change and then do something about it. Throwing ideas around about what you want to do and why will only get you so far. Through pledging your commitment and signing up to a recognised support service, your staff will see you believe their mental health and wellbeing not only matters but is a main priority to your business.

Companies like Mind and Time to Change are great places to start Sphere partner with Health Assured. We offer all employees free access to their confidential Employee Assistance Programme.

2. Understand your people

The healthier and happier your teams are the healthier the business and that all starts by understanding your people. This is where creating a safe, open working environment, taking the time to get to know individuals and the role of HR and managers becomes really important.

Strong listening skills, empathy, asking the right questions, and recognising the signs are all key soft skills managers should have to manage any mental health concerns their staff have. Sometimes people simply want to talk and know they’re being heard.

A man and woman sit at a picnic bench
3. Check-in

In doing so you’ll be more able to recognise the signs they might be struggling. Managers are best placed to notice any changes in behaviour which could indicate a mental health condition or that they’re going through something which is impacting how they’re feeling.

Don’t underestimate the value of checking-in and spending time with your employees, talking through what’s going on with them. 

4. Lead by example

Be the leader you yourself would want and think about what that looks like for your staff. A manager’s role is key in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing among their teams. The attitudes towards mental health in the workplace comes from the top down so communicate openly, collaboratively and transparently to drive positive messaging across your business.

Does your management team support their teams in the right way? And are they getting the support they need themselves?

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