How can HR lift workplace stigma regarding mental health?

How can HR lift workplace stigma regarding mental health?

With mental health topping the workplace agenda, it is not surprising that over a third of professionals now feel more comfortable talking to their manager about their personal problems than they have done in the past.

That is according to healthcare insurance provider, Bupa, whose Wellbeing Study found that employees also thought that attitudes toward mental health conditions have improved.

Now, three out of 10 believe that mental health conditions are far less taboo than they were 10 years ago, which suggests that HR departments and businesses are improving when it comes to managing struggling employees.

However, Beth Robotham, Head of Business Development at Bupa UK, believes that more needs to be done to create a truly supportive workplace.

Speaking exclusively to HR Grapevine, she said: “One of the most important things for employers to consider, when managing mental health in the workplace, is developing a culture where employees who are struggling feel able to talk to a line manager, and seek the help they need.”

To broach the subject with affected employees, in a sensitive manner, Robotham suggests that HR departments need to “emphasise support for employees” and ensure them that their career prospects will not be harmed.

She said: “Emphasising support for employees is important however manager’s behaviour plays a central role in this. The businesses we partner with which successfully foster a more open culture are the ones in which employees feel comfortable making use of the support available.”

And, to lift the stigma around this politicised workplace subject more generally, Robotham suggests that business leaders start to share their mental health recovery stories.

“Over the last few years high profile business leaders have shared their mental health recovery stories which has initiated a revolution in attitudes to mental health in the workplace” Robotham explains “Many of the contributors in Bupa’s Wellbeing Edit cited the change in the discussion around mental health as the biggest positive change in wellbeing in the last twelve months and it is clear that UK businesses now recognise that it is just as important to safeguard the mental health of employees as it is their physical health.

“Businesses are making great progress, but it remains important for us to continue working towards a common aim of understanding and support, sharing good practices so people with mental health concerns receive the assistance needed.”


Comments (1)

  • Derek Mowbray
    Derek Mowbray
    Wed, 16 Aug 2017 3:11pm BST
    It's so important for everyone at work to be able to confide in how they feel. The cost of not doing so is enormous. The WellBeing and Performance Agenda addresses the issues around mental health by focusing on helping organisations develop the cultures that provoke openness, which means focusing on transforming managers into leaders and providing them with the knowledge and understanding of how their role as role models, manifested in their behaviour, influences fundamentally the culture and the psychological wellbeing of everyone in the organisation. The additional challenge now is the move towards lone working, which brings its own challenges, but compounds the challenges of working within a workplace. Managers transformed into leaders (because leaders manage people) will have to become extra capable of interacting with their employees at a distance. Unhappily, we need to look out for a rise in mental distress arising from lone working, unless this development is sensitively applied to those with a predisposition to work on their own.

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