• Lynn Smith

Mental Health in the Workplace: A Changing Landscape


Gone are the days of the ‘grin and bear it’ mentality. Gone are the days of the stigmatization of mental illness. GONE ARE THE DAYS OF COPING ALONE. And it’s a good job, too.

Emotional, physical, spiritual, social and intellectual wellbeing are now considered tantamount to physical wellbeing - shouldering into the spotlight alongside old stalwart: physical health.

Even modern workplaces, however, are not ideally equipped to manage this umbrella of wellbeing – otherwise known as mental health - amongst employees. If a member of staff suffers an injury – for example, a paper cut – there is always at least one trained first-aider on site ready to put a plaster on it. If, on a more serious note, a member of staff suffers from a heart attack, there is always a defibrillator handy and a trained first aider to take care of them. But what if someone suffering from an anxiety disorder has a panic attack? Or how do you help a depressed colleague who has missed work for the fifth day in a row? Even now, many workplaces are generally underequipped for such scenarios. But why, when mental health affects at least 1 in 4 people in the UK, is it so grossly neglected?


The Toll on Businesses

1. 1 in 5 people take a day off work due to stress

2. This is obviously not ideal for a business – mental illness apparently costing the UK £94bn annually

3. That’s, on average, ~£1.5k per person! - and when you find 20% of people have a day off work due to stress, it’s clear that there’s something that needs to be improved upon. A good place to start would be within UK businesses themselves; that way, employees would feel more comfortable in a workplace they know they can rely on emotionally, socially and spiritually.

- Severe mental health disorders in England have increased from ~6.8% to ~9.3% in the past 11 years

4. This could be linked to any number of things (seriously, there are some funny correlations about) but it could be linked to rising levels of stress

5. Some 85% of employees feel that there is a stigma attached to mental health in the workplace, which can evidently be alleviated greatly by mental health first aid on site


Mental Health First Aid at Work

Already, big businesses such as PwC, WHSmith, Mace, Ford and Thames Water are calling on the Government to amend their current health and safety legislation and put mental first aid on equal footing with physical first aid. Here’s PwC Chief People Officer, Laura Hinton, saying:

“At PwC, we have made progress on supporting our people by having partner-level mental health advocates available for confidential conversations, providing mental health first aid training for our managers and clearly signposting to professional support for all our people."


6. And with big businesses implementing mental, as well as physical first aid, and the government even considering it as a mandatory element of the workplace it’s only a matter of time before every workplace has adequate mental health first aid.


Thank You For Reading Our First Article On First Aid At Work!