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Mental Health Awareness Month the 3 why’s of mental health at work

Why it’s important for you?

Why it’s important for you as an employer

Why it’s important for society

Why it’s important for you?

What makes you happy at work? Or maybe it is easier to ask, “what makes you sad”? For many of us we spend equal time or more time at work than we do with our own families. How do you manage your own well-being and mental health? Do you suffer in silence, fearing stigma or maybe losing a job/role? Alternatively, you may have developed over time strong & effective coping strategies. Getting your MH at work the way you want it to be is central to your success, isn’t it? Colleagues & management expect the best of you often in the face of adversity, sometimes the boundaries of reasonableness are stretched too much. This is often at the point when people begin to snap and become angry, snappy frustrated and reduce their own effectiveness. This is often worsened by the belief “nobody will believe me or understand me” type of self-talk.

Do you work to live, or live to work? Only you know the answer. Being ok at work will inevitably lead to being ok at home in your family and significant relationships.

You work hard so owe it to yourself to be ever vigilant about your mental health! Do you see it as equally as important as maintaining your physical health? Do you value feeling good and in control of your thoughts, emotions and feelings? Do you strive to thrive maybe getting close, but something holds you back?

All the questions above, you have the answers and ask yourself “ultimately why it’s important for you”?

Why it’s important for you as an employer

  • Legal
  • Financial

Under the Equality Act 2010 a person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantially adverse and long-term effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Employers must make reasonable adjustments to ensure workers with disabilities, are not disadvantaged and take steps to remove, reduce or prevent obstacles a disabled worker or job applicant faces.

Employers have a legal duty to protect employees from stress at work by doing a risk assessment and acting on it.

The HSE in 2018 released their own framework “6 management standards” these have become widely accepted as the gold standard for workplaces. They also go a long way to satisfying employment tribunal cases, if they have been followed and this can be evidenced.

What’s the human & financial cost of high levels or presenteeism & absenteeism? Mental health problems in the UK workforce cost employers almost £35 billion last year, according to research published by Centre for Mental Health. Equates to £1300 per employee.

A staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK.

Despite evidence of a comparable rise in the UK, workplace suicide remains a largely hidden phenomenon that is unrecognised in legislation, absent from official statistics, overlooked by the authorities and widely misunderstood.

In the UK, work-related suicides are not officially monitored or recorded. In the absence of official data or evidence, public authorities and employers have been able to turn a blind eye. But this in no way means the missing figures aren’t very real, just not recorded.

How much money are you losing in your business due to poor mental health?

Regurgitating figures doesn’t always hold value.

What we need to remember is the human and personal costs. That colleague that was sitting next to you for the past year is now absent going on for 6 months. The rumour mill is in overdrive and nobody is speaking enough to give a clear picture, it feels very taboo! They haven’t replaced (temporarily) your colleague to help with workload, instead opting for the all too common practice of “incorporating the work into existing employees already burgeoning workload” the toxic and what can appear punitive culture remains supreme.

Why it’s important for society

Do you care about what you see in the world of mental health? Can you navigate the information flow that hits us every day?

Counselling lists at an all-time high.

No hospital beds in your local area – people shipped out 100s miles away

Crisis services in crisis staff overworked – high sickness levels in nursing / caring professions

Closure of vital mental health services state funded services disappearing and not being suitable replaced

All the above are omni present in society, there’s no argument there.


The cost of untreated mental health conditions in the UK cannot be reliably recorded. But I am sure if you ask yourself “do you know anyone who has suffered poor mental health and as a result they couldn’t work”? of course you do! The cost of replacing them at work, the cost to the health service for related physical health problems (especially MSK Musko Skeletal) and a variety of other costs. These are tangible costs we all know about and hear.


What can you do for yourself, others and the world we live in?

  • Educate train and be aware – ask for mental health awareness training, seize opportunities to upskill your emotional toolkit.
  • Keep talking about mental health – no elephant in the room – make time in the week to specifically talk about the emotional side of work & life.
  • Keep any eye out for indicators of your own mental health decline, do not procrastinate your problems away – don’t risk it trust me it is not worth it!
  • Always Look out for friends, family and colleagues. Do not be afraid to say how you feel – it is better now than being too late. The time is over where we used to say “I don’t want to upset him/her it’s none of my business” mental health is everyone’s business because we all have it!
  • Be preventative at work. Make changes to the environment which will go some way towards changing cultures, look at wellbeing initiatives specific to your workplace.
  • Invest – find money – divert money whatever it takes mental health is cost responsive, to ensure healthy outcomes.
  • Learn to be mindful and measured in your responses – slow down “you will see and feel more”


Now when you say why, why,  you now know the 3 why’s of mental health. I do hope you find the article interesting and ultimately helpful!



Mark Ewen – Lived Experience Trainer & Mental Health Consultant

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Tel. 0115 786 0390

Thank you to Mark for his fantastic article, if you’d like to contribute to HSE People call us on 0044 1572 768 834 or email info@hsepeople.com

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