Maintaining wellness and good mental health at work is imperative, especially considering that many of us spend the vast majority of our time in the workplace.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to suffer from feelings of depression and anxiety, and this can be drastically exacerbated by poor working conditions, long hours and lack of awareness at work.
For young people, mental health can be a particularly difficult area to contend with, especially at work. 12.5% of people ages 21-25 say they suffer from depression, with 17.2% of 18-21 year olds claiming the same, according to a recent Vitality survey. This is more than double the average found for other age groups in work, highlighting the current vulnerability of under 25s.
The transition from studying to the routine of the work place can have a part to play, with some young people finding the adjustment difficult. Having grown up in the shadow of the financial crisis, money worries are also a consideration which can negatively affect under 30s. In a study run by Business in the Community, 90% of young workers said their mental health was affected by the rising cost of living.
A study by mental health charity MIND found that young people are more likely to take an annual leave day than a sick day when experiencing mental health difficulties. Reasons for this include fear of stigmatisation, fear of not being taken seriously, being perceived as weak and not wanting to be asked difficult questions about the situation.
The rise of the gig economy and zero-hour contracts has led to more people undertaking flexible, insecure work, like driving for Uber or delivering for Deliveroo, which leads to uncertainty and possible financial difficulties, affecting mental health. The rise of technology also means that we’re more likely to suffer from burnout, with employees able to check company emails or social media accounts outside of working hours and inadvertently logging extra time.
Regardless, employers have a duty of care, which means they are responsible for the health and wellbeing of their staff, be it mental or physical. Those suffering with poor mental health should be able to take time off work in the same way as if they had a physical illness such as flu, or a broken leg, as well as being able to discuss these problems with an employer.
The Equality Act means no one should be discriminated against or put at a disadvantage at work due to mental health, (amongst other clauses such as race, gender, and religion.)
In 2018, 17.5million working days were lost in the UK due to poor mental health, costing organisations more than £43billion. 41.7% of employees went to work despite not feeling well enough, but this can actually cost companies more, as unwell employees are likely to be unproductive at work, whilst lengthening the duration of their illness.
MIND’s top tips on mental health at work for employees:
– Make sure you take your full lunch break
– Maintain clear boundaries between work and home – try not to check email
– Start a clear to-do list so you stay organised
– Use time on your commute to wind down, by listening to music or reading
– Ask for help if your workload is out of control
Some more resources: