A little more conversation

Richard Martin




the IoD launches a mental health in the workplace campaign, with the publication of the report A little more conversation. A new survey shows that 54% of IoD members have been approached by staff suffering mental ill health. Yet just 14% have a formal mental health policy in place and fewer than one in five offer line management training.

The Institute of Directors has just published a report on mental health in the changing world of work. Available here - https://www.iod.com/Portals/0/PDFs/Campaigns%20and%20Reports/Mental%20Health/a%20little%20more%20conversation.pdf - and with an introduction from Prince William, the report is a call to arms for business and government to be doing more in this vital area. There are some shocking findings amid the research - fewer than one in five employers provides any training on mental health, while fewer than one in ten employees who experience problems feel able to talk to their manager about it. That would suggest the stigma around mental illness is still very much alive and kicking. Get the training done, start the conversation and the stigma ought to reduce.

A thought that occurred to me when reading the report was around the duty on employers to provide a safe workplace. We know that this imposes a duty on employers to be aware of the mental health as well as the physical safety of their employees. But what actually is the workplace? Working from home or wherever, constantly connected and available via our smartphones, with our work being done in our own minds more than in any physical place, the idea of a fixed workplace seems increasingly unrealistic. Is my workplace in fact my brain? And, if so, to what extent can an employer really be responsible for it?

I am not going to pretend to be able to come up with cogent answers. What is clear is that employers can and should be doing far more to inform and equip employees about their mental health and how best to promote positive health at the same time as looking out for the warning signs of deteriorating health. Part of it is about safe working practices in a world that enable enables us to be connected at all times, and part of it, as per the IoD report, is about enabling people to talk about their mental health, a little more conversation.

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