Among the biggest drivers of mental health, or a lack of it, are the conditions we face in our working lives. After all, if we’re spending a large portion of our waking lives in the same place, performing the same tasks, any effect that those tasks have on our state of mind is going to become that much more significant.

Failure to look after mental health, among its many downsides, will result in a downturn in productivity. Billions could be saved by UK employers if they were to more effectively manage the effects of mental health.

Mental Health at Work

Many kinds of work are inherently stressful. But when the stress becomes so great that the mind can’t adequately deal with it, it becomes a mental health problem. Anxiety and depression are among the more common symptoms, but not the only ones.

Mental Health Outside of Work

With everyone being constantly connected to their workplace via their smartphones, attaining a work-life balance can be difficult. A cause of anxiety, like an unfinished project, might pursue a person home. Moreover, the home might increasingly become an extension of the office; faced with a choice between rushing a task during working hours and spreading it over evenings and weekends, many will choose the latter. This is unsustainable.

Conversely, many home-based sources of stress, like family life, may pursue an employee to work. Among these is injury suffered outside of work. According to research published by the National Accident Helpline, a no-win, no-fee personal injury solicitor, 57% of those who’d suffered an injury worried about losing their job as a consequence. In periods of particular stress, it’s important that some leeway is granted, and that arrangements are made to accommodate the needs of an individual employee.

What can Employers do to Help?

Legally speaking, employers owe a ‘duty of care’ to their employees. That means they must do all they reasonably can to ensure a safe working environment that’s free from risks, which includes those which might affect mental health.

Exercise & Diet

Employees who don’t eat well during working hours are more vulnerable to mental (and physical) health problems. Workplaces which naturally require physical, outdoor activity don’t need to worry so much about this – but most modern workplaces don’t fall into this category. Allowing employees the time they need to get a proper meal, and incentivising behaviour like walking to work and attending the gym will begin to shift mental health in the right direction.

Take HR Seriously

The human resources department is the part of your organisation that pro-actively monitors the productivity and well-being of your employees. It’s essential that they are provided with the resources they need to function well.

It’s good to talk

Among the greatest barriers to addressing mental health issues is the stigma that surrounds them. When employees feel as though they can’t readily confess that they’re suffering, then they’ll continue to do so in silence. A few years ago, a survey from Friends Life determined that 40% of 2,000 surveyed employers had experienced mental health problems without telling their employer. So what can be done to remedy this, and persuade those who are suffering to come forward? A great first step might be to actually ask employees how they’re feeling, and let them know who to talk to if some aspect of their job is causing them stress, anxiety, or any other symptom. Employees who feel that they’ll be taken seriously are much more likely to come forward.