Poor mental health in the UK is a pressing national problem that needs immediate attention. Unfortunately, one does not need to look far to find cases of professionals suffering from mental health issues
The Prime Minister’s 2017 ‘Thriving for Work’ report shed some light on the gravity of the issue, revealing that 15% of workers have symptoms of an existing mental health condition – while a staggering 300,000 people lose their jobs each year due to mental health problems.
The cost to the economy is not insignificant either. In fact, mental ill-health at work can result in the UK losing up to £99 billion every year. Moreover, just under 30% of businesses surveyed by the British Chambers of Commerce and Aviva said they have seen an increase in the number of employees affected by mental health issues in the last three years alone.
While awareness of the issue is certainly growing, there is an obvious need to provide employees with better support mechanisms and to alleviate any obstacles standing in the way of those requiring professional help.
How can professionals seek help?
The recent launch of the Mental Health at Work project, developed in partnership between Prince William and the charity Mind, aims to tackle one of the most common problems faced by employers when addressing mental health and wellbeing – a lack of resources.
While many employers are beginning to view mental health as a company priority, others can simply lack the information they need to make effective changes in the workplace. In fact, Mind discovered that a third of all employers said they struggle to find the information they need to currently treat the mental health of their employees.
To address this problem, the new Mental Health at Work website now provides a much-needed online gateway to resources, training and information that will enable employers to get access to the tools they need to address workplace wellbeing.
Overcoming the negative stigmas associated with mental health
On the flip side, employees are often precluded from getting the help that they desperately need due to the lingering stigma surrounding mental health in certain professions. A recent survey by Mind revealed that of the 48% of employees polled that had experienced poor mental health – only half had spoken to their employer about it.
A fear of a negative reaction from a manager or colleagues is commonly cited as a major barrier to speaking out in the workplace. Largely considered a taboo in many professions like doctoring and banking, employees worry that speaking out will have repercussions on their career and therefore make the decision to suffer in silence rather than seek help.
Time poor people feel treatment is out of reach
People working in fast-paced, high-stress jobs often simply don’t have the time to seek professional help. This is compounded by the fact that appointments are usually not offered outside of traditional working hours – like in the evenings or during weekends – when professionals can typically enjoy some respite. Again, given the negative stigma that overshadows mental health issues, employees typically chose to avoid seeking treatment during the working day.
Long waiting times experienced through the public health system further increases the difficulty of receiving support, with many referred to therapy from the NHS forced to wait months before being able to meet with a mental health professional. And with the combination of increasing numbers of people needing support and the mounting pressure on the health service’s resources, the NHS is struggling to cope with the demand for mental health services.
Taking advantage of new tech solutions
The rise of HealthTech has opened up new avenues for mental health support that is both confidential and flexible in nature. New tech-based applications that employ live video technology, for instance, provide busy working professionals the privacy and convenience of talking to a therapist from the comfort of their own homes.
Companies like Mynurva have utilised these new technologies in an effort to remove the obstacles facing professionals seeking mental health support. Mynurva provides online support and therapy through live video counselling for anyone looking for fast and discreet services.
These new solutions are eliminating factors that previously prevented people from getting the help that they need – which means that those struggling with their mental health now have the ability to speak to someone confidentially and outside of weekday office hours.
With mental health issues taking a massive toll on both employees themselves and the wider economy, there needs to be an open dialogue on mental health issues within the workplace. By utilising existing technology and making resources and counselling services accessible to professional workers in the private and public sectors, more people will be in a position to obtain the help that they need to manage their mental health issues.
Dr Zain Sikafi
CEO and Co-Founder
Editor's Recommended Articles
Must Read >> Workplace at odds over mental health