Our community looks at mental health provisions in the workplace
Inspired by World Mental Health day on 10 October, we decided to see what the Chartered Governance Institute and Core communities think about how their organisations support good mental health and workplace wellbeing.
When asked about whether they consider their organisation does enough to support staff's mental health, less than half (45%) thought that they did, with over a quarter (26%) stating that their company doesn't do enough. One responder said "there are lots of initiatives in place but unfortunately, the mental health issues relating to over-work and shortage of staff continues to be a problem with very little evidence of it being addressed". Another stated "head office lags behind market initiatives regarding cohesive programme including Mental Health First Aiders, mindfulness programmes etc. Performance review process including forced Bell curve for small teams is identified by employees as big stress factor".
Many took the opportunity to tell us about what initiatives their organisations have in place with one stating "our organisation does a lot with mindfulness, resilience training and mental health first aid training, as well as occupational health support in person, by telephone and online. However, in a stressful work environment we are always looking at what else we can do". Another said things are improving, "we have yoga sessions, massage sessions, yammer sites on mental health and teams are encouraged to post on this. We now have mental health first aiders and training for leaders and management. We also have counselling service".
In fact, 47% of responders stated that their organisation has a mental health first aider, 66% said they have a counselling service, 52% have a wellbeing policy and 41% have specific management training on staff mental health.
What are the biggest barriers to overcome when seeking to improve wellbeing in the workplace?
Despite this investment, the majority (59%) felt that a lack of knowledge was still a big hurdle to overcome, while over half (51%) said there was a stigma to overcome). One responder said "I suspect one fear is the individuals reporting mental health issues for fear of lack of promotion, payrise or bonus. That it will be seen as a weakness and held against the individual. Also, I think it depends on what business sector you are in. Some are still male orientated and mental health is likely to be seen as a weakness in these".
Another claimed "ultimately all senior members in organisations understand the implications of mental health but there are very limited mechanisms to reduce workload to allow recovery without putting others at risk". While a third stated "a big barrier to overcome has been engaging employees who have spent most of their career without any such focus on their wellbeing and so they can't relate to why it is necessary now or what good can come from it. This tends, therefore, to split down stereotypical lines of age and gender".
This issue of engagement was echoed by someone who claimed "there is a tendency to try to address the symptoms of lack of wellbeing in the workplace and not the underlying cause. Because I work in banking this underlying cause is the toxic and corrosive culture of the organisation". While another simply stated "I may be being unfair but it feels as if there's always something 'more important to do'".
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