institute of directors and mental health

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As the Elvis song almost said, ‘A little more conversation’ is the title of the latest report released by the Institute of Directors’ (IOS) today (2 March 2017).

The report has been published as part of the IOD’s mental health in the workplace campaign urging its members to recognise mental wellbeing in the workplace as just as important as physical health when it comes to their employees. One of the report’s key facts is that 54% of IOD members say they’ve been approached by a member of staff with a mental health issue – including burnout or stress – but only 14% have a mental health policy in place with fewer still offering training in this area.

Other important findings in the 18 page report include most members recommending an employee visit their GP to deal with mental health issues. However, not many GPs or staff nurses are trained in mental health illness or wellbeing, and members would be better off supporting their staff in-house with improved policies and focus.

One of the reasons behind staff suffering from mental health issues is a changing expectation of work and the blurring of the work-life balance. In today’s ‘always on’ culture where technology rules, employees can be at the mercy of the Blackberry or smartphone app in their downtime making it more difficult to switch off. Others also form part of the ‘gig economy’ where they work extra jobs to earn a bit extra.

It’s because of reasons like this, the Office of National Statistics believes around one in six adults is currently experiencing some form of mental disorder, which is more than the number of adults on average attending a weekly professional football match. That’s pretty surprising considering the UK’s national game is football.

Mental health has been in the news recently of course, with the Prime Minister announcing a review on the subject, calling it a ‘stigma’ and ‘everyone’s problem’. Prime Ministers have spoken about mental health before, particularly Winston Churchill who used the term ‘the black dog’ about his own depression as he saw talking about it as a sign of weakness and ‘un-British’, which is perhaps why there has been a reluctance to talk about the subject.

It’s this attitude the IOD is hoping to change. By having ‘A little more conversation’ about mental health, it is no longer a stigma. Indeed, one of the most effective ways to address a mental health issue is to talk about it. Organisations can go much further than that though, says the report, and actually appoint a non-executive director to make sure mental health is actively talked about. Changing the culture ‘from the top’ is really important in switching the mind-set of people in organisations to one of openness and not being afraid to speak out.

This is something we’ve talked about before in a previous blog post, and we’re glad to see the IOC agreeing with us. So come on, as the man from Graceland didn’t quite say, let’s get the talking going and have a little more conversation please around mental health.

To read the full report, go to:

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