By Dean Hurst (Operations Director)
Here at RSVP, we take our mental health very seriously. With over 30 years in telecommunications we know how important it is speak to each other and how those conversations affect us.
We have always had an open door policy here are RSVP, encouraging our staff to come and speak to us about any issues they are facing, and ensuring that we help where we can, however as we continue to monitor these events over time, we can clearly see that they are on the rise.
Although the increase is minimal, it is plain to see that reports of ill mental health have increased over the past few years. This could be due to an increased focus on openness within the company, or it could be down to more awareness overall. Either way, it is something that we wish to tackle head on.
We are therefore pleased to announce that we are starting the process of our action plan for ‘time to change’ in both of our locations within the UK.
We are in the process of building our groups of employee champions, and will be including them in the composition of this action plan, and in helping us to rewrite our mental health policy and plan for the future.
We have also conducted initial research into the best processes for commencing a comprehensive mental health policy. We have found the following research:
CIPD; Employee Outlook, July 2016:
‘The importance of supporting people’s mental health at work has slowly but surely gained recognition in the UK over the past few years, and with very good reason.’
(CIPD; Employee Outlook, July 2016)
In summer 2016, the CIPD published a paper in conjunction with the mental health charity, Mind.
Their findings state that throughout the UK there are just under a quarter of employees who describe their mental health as not being good with 5% stating that their mental health was actually poor or even very poor. 50% of those who advised they were suffering with poor mental health were absent from work in direct relation to these difficulties. In addition to this, out of all respondents, 95%, of those employees suffering with poor mental health suggested it had affected their performance at work in various ways.
Within their survey they discovered that 20% of the participants felt that their company did not effectively support employees with mental health issues with 3 in ten not knowing how well their company looked after these employees. This also covered whether or not employees felt that there was an open and inclusive environment within the workplace which encouraged discussion and support. 42% of those asked felt that this was not present with their place of work.
Under half of those who suffering with mental health issues disclosed this to their employers with around a quarter of those who did tell management felt that they had no support at all. With issues at work potentially contributing to or causing these health issues it is the duty of the employer to assist with the remedy.
The mental health in work place section of the ACAS website states that “one in four of us will experience mental ill health at some point in our lives.” With those suffering being a quarter of the population it is impossible to ignore the presence of poor mental health.
In October 2017 ACAS published a guide titled “promoting positive mental health in the workplace”. Within this guide it state that mental health is “the mental and emotional state in which we feel able to cope with the normal pressures of everyday life” which means poor mental health is not being able to handle the stresses of the day to day.
Not addressing mental health symptoms/issues may cause physical manifestations to occur such as low immunity or a dependency on substances such as alcohol or drugs. The risk of accidents is increased when those who are not well enough to competently complete tasks continue to come in to work.
A report written by David MacLeod in 2009 stated that other factors including management showing where individuals fit into the big picture and how important they are, managers who respect and encourage development within their team, reward, creation of shared values within the company and the introduction of rewards where deserved also promote over all wellbeing and a general happiness. However, government figures show that 2 million employees become ill or have an illness worsened by work. Illness such as stress, depression and all manner of other mental health issues can cause anxiety, lead to back pain, headaches and can even contribute towards coronary heart disease symptoms which can have grave outcomes.
Time to Change.Org
Finally, Time to Change has been our major focus in terms of information gathering, as we prepare out action plan for submission. Their research directly mirrors the other studies taken in to consideration:
With figures as high as this it is clear that the impact on the company is great. The site provides tried and tested processes to aid employers with the handling of this issue. It discusses the stigma that is attached to the subject and the best way to tackle this by increasing knowledge and creating environments which are open and supportive.
As we move forward we will be using all of the information gathered, together with suggestions and guidance from our employee champions to compile a robust and realistic action plan for the future. We will be posting regular updates on our progress so keep checking in on our blogs for information on how things are going.