Blue Monday (Monday 15 January) is recognised as the most miserable day of the year for many staff with Christmas debts being realised, New Year’s resolutions broken, uninspiring weather and relationship strains coming to the fore. Therefore, it’s not necessarily surprising that RedArc usually receives 30 per cent more* referrals for mental health conditions during the month of January than at any other time of the year.
RedArc is urging employers to recognise this trend amongst staff and understand that there is a very fine line between a stressed member of staff and the emergence of a mental health condition: for those who have a history of depression and anxiety, the condition can also become more complex and difficult to manage during the winter months.
With this in mind, the company recommends the following actions to help employers support their staff all year round – but especially during January. The company believes that taking steps towards more positive mental health will not only benefit the individual but also promote improved productivity across the workforce:
1. The easiest step, and the one with least associated costs, is to ask employees how they are feeling and really take time to listen to the answers.
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc says: “Annual staff reviews, where career objectives are discussed, may not pick up the early signs of mental health issues. Asking people how they are from a work perspective but also taking into consideration outside-of-work pressures can go a very long way in showing that your organisation cares about the welfare and wellbeing of its staff, and making that individual feel valued.”
2. Review your company’s wellbeing policies and procedures – do your employees have access to mental health support, does support start early enough and last long enough?
3. Do employees know how to access the mental support you offer and do you constantly remind them of its availability? Mental health support often falls on deaf ears until it is needed, so regular communication is essential.
4. Utilise any support services that are available to the employer as well as the employee (via insurances or EAPs) – they may give the organisation some direction in introducing initiatives such as discounted gym memberships, fitness challenges, app & tech as well as providing fresh fruit: there is a strong link between physical health and good mental wellbeing.
5. Consider the middle (wo)man too: line managers and colleagues may also need support in dealing with members of staff who are struggling with mental health conditions.
Christine Husbands, managing director for RedArc continued: “Every Monday can be a Blue Monday for someone who has mental health problems but employers can help that individual by providing the right support at the right time. That professional support often needs to be external to the organisation in order for the individual to fully benefit. By selecting a group risk product, private medical insurance or an EAP that includes this benefit, will give staff automatic access and is a significant step in managing the workforce’s mental health.”
*Statistics based on records of new patient referrals to RedArc nurses over the past ten years.