Built Intelligence

Conversations about mental health in the workplace by Andrea Newton

Conversations about mental health in the workplace by Andrea Newton

Mental health referrals have increased by almost a fifth compared to pre-pandemic levels, figures from 117 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) in England have shown.

In March last year, around 300,000 people were referred to NHS mental health services in Great Britain, which is a rise of 18 per cent from the total in February 2020, BBC analysis revealed.

The rise is driven largely by an increase in referrals across England, with some CCGs such as Leeds, Greater Preston and Redbridge seeing referrals more than double compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Now if referrals have increased by that amount, chances are as an employer, you want to be able to make sure that if anyone in your organisation is dealing with a mental health problem, that you are able to support and signpost as appropriate – right?

You know that your duty of care as an employer is NOT just health and safety around hard hats and hi viz. you KNOW that your duty of care also extends to mental health and hopefully cultivating an environment of psychological safety?

But how the heck do we go about supporting someone with a mental health issue when actually we find it incredibly difficult to talk openly about?

How do we support our staff who might be reluctant to talk in the first place? How do I make sure that I don’t say the wrong thing? Make matters worse? Offend them or worse?

And that is where the story goes.

Over the last few years I have worked with hundreds of managers who had those same concerns. Decent people, decent human beings, who WANTED to help if they could, but felt uncomfortable, didn’t know how to, didn’t want to pry into private, sensitive information, and certainly did NOT want to aggravate an already difficult situation. And all those feelings and concerns are perfectly normal, perfectly HUMAN but that doesn’t help someone in crisis! So what exactly DO we need to do that is appropriate for the workplace AND that we are capable of doing, without being mental health experts ourselves?!?

About the Author

Andrea Newton has been helping organisations develop the skill and confidence to have Confident Conversations and get comfortable with the uncomfortable for over 21 years. She has worked across a range of industry sectors and is happiest working in a way that is practical, down to earth, direct and uncomplicated. She prefers a mug to a cup and prefers places that call a spade a shovel ... if you would like to benefit from her expertise and ability to make a room full of people comfortable with subjects as sensitive as suicide, then you can find out more about her (and listen to her podcast series)  at www.confidentconversations.co.uk or https://www.linkedin.com/in/andrea-newton-cc/

Sign up to the latest free webinars on NEC3, NEC4, CDM, JCT and more.