Recent reports and surveys have highlighted the extent of mental health issues present in the workplace environment. Indeed reports also suggest that mental health issues are resulting in an increase in absenteeism and in many instances the cause of the absenteeism is being misrepresented as something else. In the UK, it estimated that in a year 12 million working days were lost in the period 2018/19 amounting to over 21 days on average per recorded case. Comparable figures are not currently available in Ireland. Research further suggests that one in six people will experience some form of mental health issue related to work in a given year, and six in 10 of those will not have spoken to anyone about it. Alongside this, 70 per cent of managers believe there are barriers to providing support for those they manage. We cannot forget that employers have a responsibility to take all steps that could be reasonably expected of them to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of their employees.
Much has been spoken about mental health in the workplace in the last number of years with many initiatives and supports being advocated to address the issue. The current indications are that the problem is getting progressively worse and what has been done to-date is not effective in addressing the issue. In many organisations the front line managers are now more likely to be confronted with instances of mental ill-health among their staff with signs and symptoms manifesting themselves in various guises. In many cases the manager is ill-equipped to deal with such situations as they can be complex and difficult to comprehend. CIPD are advocating that more investment in good people management is required for managers to meet the increasing expectation on them to support people’s health at work.
The Chris Mee group is currently delivering a training programme that teaches line managers to provide immediate support to a staff member experiencing a mental health issue until appropriate professional help is accessed. This we believe is a hugely important intervention in dealing with mental health issues before they escalate or are ignored and go unnoticed in the workplace. The course will also provide the line manager with an improved understanding of the common mental health issues and their associated signs and symptoms.