Mental health now affects around 1 in 4 people across their lifetime

 ‘Stress, anxiety and depression are the biggest cause of sickness absence in our society. Mental ill health is responsible for 91 million working days lost every year’

Statistics like this are shocking to read but they point at the massive epidemic that is affecting not only the recruitment industry but industries across the UK. With the idea of work/life balance now almost non-existent as were constantly connected and with the retirement age on the up, it’s no wonder we’re seeing a rise in the amount of people affected by mental health issues.

Why are we seeing such a rise in people affected with mental health problems? 

Our prehistoric fight or flight response has a big role to play, no longer activated by the danger of a predator but instead our dragon of a boss or the stress of a looming deadline. 

We’re constantly switched on, mobiles come on holidays with us, emails follow us everywhere and there’s no escape or down time from the constant stress or worry about whether we’re working hard enough. No wonder there’s been a dramatic increase in recent years. 

Unfortunately, there’s still a stigma around mental health and we’re not talking about it enough! A lot of people suffer in silence and don’t feel like they can reach out for the vital support that they want and need. 

Why isn’t everyone talking about it? 

A lack of awareness is one of the biggest barriers to providing support in the workplace. Even little steps are a step in the right direction. 

Be open. Be inclusive. Be empathetic. Be sensitive. 

Break your own preconceptions! A mental health issue is just as serious if not more so than a physical condition – if someone on your team needed time off for a broken bone you wouldn’t think twice, so why is this not the same for someone suffering with anxiety or depression? 

On a more positive note this is starting to change with the help of charities and campaigners alongside the media who are starting to put this issue in the spotlight.  

So, what little steps can you take? 

First things first, upskill your Managers to work in a way that reduces stress in their teams rather than adding to it. Encourage staff to take regular breaks both throughout the day and through regular days off, it’s important for everyone to get some down time. 

Call for mental health first aiders in your business, they don’t need to be a qualified therapist or psychologist but many organisations are now offering a 2 day course to become a mental health first aider which at least can help with the basics such as spotting illnesses, giving initial help and guiding people on to further help. And most importantly to raise awareness and break the stigma around talking about it. We have a first aider for injuries in all workplaces so why not a mental health one? 

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