Yesterday was World Mental Health Day and the key theme for this year is “Young people and mental health in a changing world”. The early years of adulthood are the time of our lives when some of the biggest changes occur, including leaving home, starting university, relationships and entering the world of work. These can be exciting times. They can also be times of stress and apprehension.
In some cases, if not recognised and managed, these feelings can lead to stress and depression and potentially can trigger mental illness. Add to these big life changes the expanding use of social media, the picture of the perfect life and body that can be portrayed via these mediums and the additional pressure that this can bring as we connect 24/7, and it’s not hard to see why young people may struggle.
The Facts – Mental Health in the Workplace
Before we get in to our solutions to support our peoples mental health in a changing world – particular young people, let’s have a look at the facts:
- 16 million people in the UK experience a mental illness
- 75% of mental illnesses start before a child reaches their 18th birthday
- 50% of all mental illness begins by the age of 14 but most cases go undetected and untreated
- The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15-29 year old’s on the planet
- More than half of young people link mental illness with alienation and isolation
If you are an employer, World Mental Health Day is a fantastic opportunity to consider what is going on within your organisation and how challenges in your workplace could be contributing to mental health problems. What is clear from the above statistics is that you will inevitably be recruiting and working with people no matter what their age, that have perhaps experienced a mental health issue in the past or may be currently managing a mental health condition. We also need to bear in mind different generations will need to be supported in a way that is reflective of the challenges and experiences that are inherent to their demographic.
Prevention begins with better understanding
Much can be done to help build mental resilience to help prevent mental distress and illness, and to manage and recover from mental illness. Prevention begins with creating a culture of wellbeing where we can be proactive in supporting our people and increasing their resilience.
Also it is very important to be aware of and understand the early warning signs and symptoms of mental illness. Employers can help employees build life skills to cope with everyday challenges and pressures and increase their personal resilience. Training for line managers to enable them to detect and discuss mental health and wellbeing in their teams can also be put in place, improved or expanded – they must be the 1st line of support. Investment by employers in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of their workforce that raises awareness and helps peers, colleagues and managers know how to support each other, is essential.
It’s also imperative to create a structured People, Culture and Wellbeing Strategy that is owned by Senior Management. Initiatives can be short lived and may not necessarily yield the desired long term benefit unless there is a strategy that sits above them.
Are you worried about mental health in your organisation?
If you are worried about mental health in your organisation, then you should definitely be thinking about a wellbeing programme for your employees.
The first step to any wellbeing programme is conducting a Business Stress Risk Audit to diagnose what is the root cause of stress and mental health issues. Accurately identifying the causes that are stopping your organisation from being mentally healthy, is the first step in ensuring that you are able to develop a wellbeing strategy that is suitable and tailored for your organisation to achieve its People, Culture and Wellbeing Objectives.
We can help. To find out more about how we can help you diagnose, develop or maintain a mentally healthy workforce, contact us today.
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