Employers sometimes see mental health issues as difficult to deal with. However, not only do employers have a duty of care towards employees with mental health problems, they can benefit financially through understanding mental health issues and implementing support procedures for affected employees.
Atos Healthcare are experienced in providing healthcare solutions to employers – including employee assistance and sickness absence management services – and in this blog post, the first in a series of five posts relating to mental health in the workplace, we will discuss current attitudes to mental health issues. Please read on to find out more.
Attitudes to mental health problems
I’d like to begin this blog with two quotes I uncovered, which nicely summarise the dilemmas we face as individuals and organisations when understanding the thorny issue of mental health.
“Stress is like spice – in the right proportion it enhances the flavor of a dish. Too little produces a bland, dull meal; too much may choke you.”
Donald Tubesing, PhD, a recognised US expert in the field of stress management
“We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.”
Anais Nin, French-Cuban author
Social attitudes have been transformed beyond all recognition since I trained to be a doctor in the early 1970s. I feel confident stating that, as a society, we are more willing to discuss issues which, just twenty or thirty years ago, would have been considered inappropriate in a work environment.
Imake this point to bring one particular issue into sharper relief; that of mental illness.
Certainly, there have been amazing strides in our understanding and treatment of mental illness in all its forms.
Equally, we have robust legislation in the form of the Equality Act 2010 and the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which the former has now larger replaced.
However, regardless of these advances, there remains a stigma attached to mental health.
According to a study by the Shaw Trust – Mental Health the Last Taboo – perceptions of mental health have changed in the workplace.
However, the report showed that managers still underestimate the prevalence of mental illness. 40% of managers surveyed reported negative attitudes by co-workers as being an obstacle to employing people with mental health issues and a significant number stated that they believed people with mental health problems to be less reliable.
In the next post in this series, we’ll be looking at why it’s important for us to address such attitudes towards mental health issues in the workplace.
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