Each year, one in four Scots experience a mental health problem.
Of those with mental health problems in work the average time lost is 30 working days, costing Scottish employers over £350 million.
It is thought that many employers remain unaware of, or continue to underestimate, the major impact employees’ mental health has on their business and the wider economy.
To help employers and managers to better deal with the impact of stress, anxiety and depression, Healthy Working Lives has launched www.save30days.com.
This is an online resource to provide employers and line managers across Scotland with advice and solutions on how to cope with mental health problems in the workplace, such as:
The key factors that contribute to a mentally healthy workplace
The economic impact of positive mental health in the workplace
Delivering a open working culture that puts mental health on the agenda alongside physical health
Improving managers’ skills and confidence in dealing with mental health and well-being in the workplace
Ensuring that managers are aware of their legislative responsibilities in relation to health and well-being
Specifically, the website also contains links to: Health Scotland’s ‘Talking About’ information on Stress, Anxiety and Depression; links to the Mentally Healthy Training course and the Mental Health First Aid website; a link to a stress audit; and information on the Mental Health and Well-being Commendation Award.
In addition, Healthy Working Lives is offering training courses for employers to promote positive mental health in the workplace.
Mentally Healthy Workplaces gives employers the understanding, knowledge and skills to address a wide variety of issues relating to employment and mental health.
Meanwhile, the Mental Health First Aid raises awareness of the signs and symptoms of mental health problems and also gives advice on how to support someone with a mental health problem.
In Scotland, there are over 117,000 people with mental health problems, who want to work but are unemployed.
However, paradoxically, getting back to a supportive working environment is the best antidote for poor mental health.
Research shows returning to work promotes recovery, longer-term better health as well as improving quality of life and well-being.
Workplaces with support programmes in place often reap the rewards with an increase in staff productivity, reduced absence rate and a more positive working environment.
In fact, it is believed that a high proportion of employees who experience a mental health problem can make a solid recovery with the right workplace/employer supported initiatives in place.
Nina Torbett, Development Manager at the Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives said, “Employers have made significant progress in dealing with work-related stress.
However it is becoming more apparent that the wider issues around mental health, such as stigma, discrimination and the most common reasons for sickness/absence, anxiety and depression, are proving more of a challenge to managers and employees alike.
She added, “At any time, one in four Scots will experience a mental health problem. Many will be in work and the good news is that the vast majority will make a good recovery. It therefore makes good economic sense for employers to support staff, ideally to stay in work; an understanding and supportive employer can often prevent unnecessary extended spells of absence.”
Shona Robison MSP, Minister for Public Health said: “Mental ill-health is a serious issue in the workplace. Untreated, it can lead to long-term sickness absence with all the costs that this has for employers and for the economy, as well as the terrible impact it can have on the lives of those affected and their families. Ultimately, people can lose their jobs. I urge employers to take seriously their responsibilities to address workplace-related stress and anxiety. It is in the best interests of both employers and employees.”
Tommy Steele, QHSE Manager, Vecto Gray, who recently attended the Mentally Healthy Workplaces course, said “Everyone knows how it feels to be low and stressed out however if we can listen, understand and adapt, our working environments become happier and healthier for everyone.”