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If Organisations Want To Be Truly Inclusive Then Focus on Mental Health

​It impacts us all

Mental health is not a modern fashion trend, it’s something we ALL have and we need to look after it just like our physical health. We all have good and bad days, mental health problems do not discriminate, it affects us regardless of age, personality or background. Mind, a mental health charity, states that good mental health means being generally able to think, feel and react in the ways that you need and want to live your life. But if you go through a period of poor mental health you might find the way you're thinking, feeling or reacting to things become difficult, or even impossible, to cope with. This can feel just as bad as a physical illness. Even getting out of bed can become overwhelming.

1 in 4 people across the UK will experience a problem each year (McManus et al 2009) and a more recent study has shown that 1 in 6 people within England report common problems such as anxiety or depression in any given week (McManus et al 2016). If you apply this research to Investigo, we would be looking at having around 60 of our people having some period of mental ill health within any given year. Thought provoking isn’t it?

Mental ill health impacts us all differently, and manifests itself in many ways. The crucial thing to remember is that everyone’s experience of poor mental health is different – two people with the same condition may have entirely different symptoms and coping mechanisms. That’s why each person’s mental health problem should be supported in the right way, on an individual basis. There are many factors that play into how people are affected, whether its directly as a result of factors like personal trauma, personal circumstances, physical changes or being around family, friends and colleagues who are themselves experiencing mental ill health. An issue can happen suddenly, because of a specific event in someone’s life, or it can build up gradually over time.

Not everyone seeks support – which is a shame

There is often a stigma associated with mental ill health, and it can manifest itself as negative attitude and discrimination and in turn many people may feel ashamed to discuss mental health issues with people around them and hinder them from seeking help because they are worried about what other people might think of them. People may internalise their problems and can start to believe negative things that others may say to them and make things worse. There are many myths surrounding mental health problems, common ones include that people can pull themselves out of it through will power, people who are weak are those who get mental ill health and the idea that people may be dangerous. This misunderstanding can hinder people from seeking professional assistance.

In other situations, people may have sought help in the past which hasn’t been adequate, or they may lack the insight to realise that they need help or that help is available. They may not realise they need help, or that effective help exists or be in such a state of distress that they are unable to think clearly about what they should do.

What can organisations do?

There are many publications citing that placing mental health and wellbeing at the heart of business can improve productivity and happiness, and positively impact the bottom line. But ultimately the question is not why should we do this but why wouldn’t we do this?

Rather than looking at it through the legal lens of employers having a ‘duty of care’, organisations should proactively include mental health on their wellbeing, diversity and inclusion agendas. Work to ensure the right culture and infrastructure is in place and offer the right level of support:

  • Minimise the stigma: Raise awareness of mental health across your business and maintain a level of knowledge

  • Be alert: Equip your managers with the skills to work with employees who experience mental health issues and that they have regular, quality 1:1s

  • Be active: Promote better physical wellbeing to aid coping mechanisms

  • Flexibility: Flexible working is one of the ways businesses can prioritise their employees’ personal needs

  • Invest in professional initiatives: Have an employee assistance programme in place

  • Invest in Mental Health First Aiders: These are not professionals but they are trained to be helpful and knowledgeable around how to spot early signs of a mental health problem and how to provide initial confidential help and support.

Investigo actively encourages people to talk more freely about mental health, reducing the stigma and creating a more positive culture. We have recently introduced mental health first aiders, who are on hand within the business to help support anyone who is experiencing mental ill health.

We have also set up a Wellbeing and Engagement Committee where a number of people from across our business, who are passionate about how we promote and maintain wellbeing and how we ensure our people are motivated in the right way, get together to ensure we continue to focus topics like these.

#mentalhealth #wellbeing #inclusion #diversity