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LMWS Blog: Mental Health and the Workplace
The link between mental health and employment has never been clearer. As workplaces begin to reopen across the country, LMWS Employment Adviser, Hannah Beswick explains this critical relationship and what both employers and staff can do to improve.
A sense of purpose
‘Employment can provide a sense of purpose, routine, income, and opportunities to socialise and learn new skills. This boosts our self-esteem, confidence and wellbeing,’ Hannah explains. ‘However, many of us experience workplace stress instead, caused by anything from discrimination and poor relationships, to a lack of support or an unhealthy work environment.’
Poor mental health has a negative impact on both staff and employers.
‘It increases sick days, reduces productivity and can increase staff turnover too – resulting in higher recruitment and training costs,’ Hannah says. ‘Employers have a duty of care and should do all they can to support employees' health, safety and wellbeing.’
‘Good communication is important for both employers and employees, to develop a supportive environment,’ Hannah adds.
'During the pandemic, awareness of mental health difficulties has increased, highlighting the need for supportive working environments,’ Hannah says.
Remote working has seen a significant shift. ‘Where previously some employers had reservations about home working, the pandemic has positively challenged these beliefs,’ Hannah says. ‘For many, working remotely has increased productivity, created trust and allowed employees to have a better work-life balance.’
Others, however, have experienced new challenges like furlough, redundancy, and childcare issues. 'Many have struggled with disruption, uncertainty, and isolation,' says Hannah. 'My own team has had to take steps to adjust. We’ve focussed on keeping our working space and equipment separate from our living space, taking lunch breaks, and booking in chats with colleagues to help keep spirits up.’
Returning to the workplace
As ways of working continue to evolve, it’s important to take care of yourself.
‘Have regular check-ins with yourself,’ Hannah advises. ‘Ask – how am I coping? Could I do more to help stay mentally healthy? That way, you can identify any issues and find possible solutions – either yourself or with the help of your manager.’
This process is even more crucial for those returning to pre-lockdown workplaces.
‘Make sure you understand what provisions have been made to create and maintain a safe environment. Ask your manager if you’re uncertain,’ Hannah says. ‘It may also be helpful to think through what will happen on the first day back and plan how you will manage the new set-up.’
LMWS can help
Hannah and her team help people with a wide range of activities, from finding fulfilling jobs to returning from sick leave.
‘We provide support and guidance for those searching for work, and help those already in work to manage their mental health – whether that’s accessing services or asking for adjustments,’ she says.
Our employment support is open to all those awaiting or receiving most forms of therapy from LMWS. Contact Employment Advice for more information.
Specialist support for Leeds employers
The team also work directly with employers to build mental health awareness and help them support their staff.
‘We offer advice and tools to support conversations about mental health in the workplace and create an open culture,’ Hannah explains. ‘We help organisations better understand staff wellbeing and find solutions to any internal issues.’
Employers can also request free LMWS Wellbeing in the Workplace sessions, delivered by qualified CBT therapists and open to all employees. Find out more.