Mental Health Confirmed as the Biggest Cause of Sickness Absence- Here’s How You Can Help.

A new NHS study has shown that stress, depression and anxiety are the most common reasons for health and social care workers taking sick days. The findings were backed by mental health charity, MIND which found in its own study that more than half of workers across all industries are affected by poor mental health in the workplace.

Despite the nature of social care, many managers report difficulty in knowing how to help staff experiencing mental health problems. Few organisations train managers to support staff with poor mental health and MIND reported that only 42% of workers felt their manager would be able to spot the signs they were struggling with their mental health.

Knowing how to identify and prevent mental health problems can help you to improve staff wellbeing, reduce sickness absence and promote good morale within your team. Read on learn about the simple steps you can take to promote a positive approach to mental health in your workplace.

A CIPD study reported that stress-related absence increased in 40% of businesses in 2018. Work issues were frequently reported as a contributory factor, but staff often found it difficult to disclose their difficulties to employers or to seek support from managers.

Reduce Sickness Absence by Following Our 5 Steps to Managing Mental Health in Your Workplace

  1. Pre-employment Screening: Effective pre-employment health screening can help you to identify staff who may have experienced mental health problems or be at increased risk in future. The purpose of screening is not to exclude people from employment but to ensure that appropriate support and supervision is provided to help maintain good mental health and encourage discussion of any problems the employee may be experiencing.
  2. Preventative Measures: Steps such as effective induction, regular supervision and promoting a positive and supportive culture can play a huge part in supporting wellbeing. Establishing good communication between new staff and supervisors in the early days of employment will make it easier for any problems to be disclosed and addressed promptly.
  3. Early Intervention: Ensuring that managers and supervisors are able to identify the most common signs of poor mental health will allow them to act quickly to provide support. Symptoms such as a change in mood, poor motivation, tearfulness, lethargy or a lack of concentration can all suggest something isn’t right. Any concerns should be addressed quickly but sensitively, perhaps through supervision, so that the staff member feels more able disclose their problems and seek support.
  4. Encouraging Openness: The stigma attached to mental health means that many people still struggle to talk about problems they may be experiencing. Making mental health a priority in your workplace by discussing it at staff meetings and supervisions, displaying materials from organisations such as MIND or participating in events such as World Mental Health Day can all help to normalise discussion about mental health problems and encourage a more open culture.
  5. Return to Work Support: Returning to work after any period of absence is daunting but coming back after an episode of poor mental health can be particularly stressful. Advance planning and discussion with the person concerned is essential to ensure that appropriate help is in place and that they feel welcomed and supported on their return. In some cases, a staged return with adjusted responsibilities may be required but always seek the agreement of the person concerned to any changes to their role, so that they feel in control of their return.