mental health in the workplace

Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

Defining mental health extends beyond the mere absence of mental illness. Experts emphasise a broader perspective, describing it as “a state of successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships with people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope with adversity.” Mentally healthy individuals exhibit fewer health-related limitations, fewer missed workdays, and superior social functioning. 

The Impact of Modern Life 

The impact of stress on our well-being is rooted in our evolutionary history. The brain, designed to react to threats, can’t distinguish between a physical danger and the stresses of modern life. Chronic stress, resembling a constant rush, takes a toll on the frontal part of the brain, which is responsible for regulating crucial functions like hormones, blood pressure, and cognitive processes. 

Persistently overwhelming stress not only leads to anxiety and depression but also contributes to various physical ailments, including heart disease, insomnia, muscle pain, compromised immune function, and a potential link to cancer. 

Mental health in the workplace 

Recognising the prevalence of mental health challenges, particularly in the workplace, is crucial. The Department of Health estimates that one in four individuals may experience mental health issues at some point. Consequently, employers must take proactive measures to foster positive mental health, as it correlates with improved performance, attendance, and engagement. 

Promoting positive mental health 

Transforming workplace culture requires time, with a need for employers to publicly commit to promoting positive mental health. Implementing support processes for those facing mental health challenges, training managers, appointing mental health champions, establishing policies, and involving staff are integral components of a comprehensive action plan. 

Warning signs of mental health issues 

Recognising signs of mental health issues is imperative. Physically, individuals may exhibit frequent headaches, stomach upsets, fatigue, or changes in appearance and weight. Emotionally and behaviourally, signs include irritability, withdrawal from social activities, increased conflicts, erratic behaviour, loss of decision, and altered substance consumption. 

At work, warning signs encompass increased errors, missed deadlines, excessive workload assumption, extended working hours, punctuality issues, and heightened sickness absence. Employers can contribute to a healthier, more supportive work environment by being vigilant and proactive. 

For information and help in updating your policies and procedures or staff training, please contact our Employment and HR department 


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