The British Psychological Society, Bank Workers charity and Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) are among the organisations that have given their support to Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) [11-17 May] saying it can lead to more openness about mental health.
The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, has been supporting MHAW internally, encouraging its members and other stakeholders to think about the importance of promoting good mental health, and for their employees and employers to do so too.
Commenting on the importance of MHAW, Dr Jill Miller, research adviser at the CIPD, said: "With two-fifths of UK employers saying they’ve seen an increase in reported mental health problems over the past year, it’s become an issue they just can’t ignore. As well as being the right thing to do, investing in employees’ mental health also makes clear business sense. Healthy employees are more focused at work, so they’ll be more productive and come up with better ideas."
The CIPD has also suggested a range of ways business can reduce the stigma around mental health with activities during the week and beyond:
- Line manager training to spot early warning signs of issues and feel confident to talk with their staff about any problems
- Promote the importance of looking after your mental health, as well as the support that’s on offer if you’re struggling
- Monitor workloads and address frequent late-working
- Ramping up internal communications about the support offered to employees (e.g. counselling services) and how to access that support
- Looking at culture – do people feel able to flag when they are struggling?
- Holding a ‘lunch and learn’ session on mental health to increase awareness across the organisation
- Considering simple workplace adjustments that can help retain talented people.
MHAW is run by the Mental Health Foundation and this year’s focus is on highlighting mindfulness, and more broadly the positive steps people can take to increase mental resilience.
The Bank Workers charity supports the focus on mindfulness because of the evidence that suggests that it is has many benefits. For instance, it helps to reduce stress, boosts working memory, and makes it easier to focus on things and avoid distraction and to enjoy the pleasures in life as they occur. It is also recommended by National Institute for Health Care and Excellence as a treatment for depression.
Impact of war on psychological health
Elsewhere, the British Psychological Society's presidential team has called on the government to recognise the impact of war, poverty, social divisions, inequity and the abuse of fundamental human rights on psychological health.
Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes, president of the British Psychological Society, said: "Too many people, especially women and children, are traumatised by war and armed conflict. We must work actively for peace, and we must extend both humanitarian care and the hand of friendship to people escaping from conflict zones.
"To promote genuine mental health and wellbeing we need to protect and promote universal human rights, as enshrined in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Because experiences of neglect, rejection and abuse are hugely important in the genesis of many problems, we need to redouble our efforts to protect children from emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse and neglect."
To find out more on MHAW15 visit www.mentalhealth.org.uk/our-work/mentalhealthawarenessweek/