Let’s talk mental health – with Gemma Holmes 

October 2021

Since the ease of lockdown earlier this year, whilst many of us smoothly returned to normality, there are those who continue to silently struggle. It is imperative that employers prioritise the wellbeing of their workforce and encourage a healthy work environment. 

The most recent reports, generated by Oracle (Human Capital Management), indicate that 2020, the most stressful year ever, presented employers and employees with the biggest challenges to date. The survey, taken by over 12,000 business representatives has also revealed that employees expect their companies to recognise and support good mental health in the workplace.

Rapidly evolving workplace dynamics, heavy workloads and poor communication practices are just a few factors affecting mental wellbeing at work. According to the Mental Health Foundation, 1 in 6.8 employees experience mental health issues, resulting in 12.7% of all sickness absence days being attributed to the condition. 

But how exactly can we promote a healthier workplace and support those, who are suffering in silence?

We have reached out to Gemma Holmes, our Community Associate at Impact Working, for some answers.

1.    How would you define mental health?

Mental health affects the way we think, feel, and behave. What defines it for me is the stability of our thoughts, combined with the overall state of body and mind. 

2.    Do you think there is a stigma attached to mental health illness at work?

In my experience, I would say that there is a social stigma regarding mental health, both in, and outside work. People don't always recognise mental health issues and assume only certain individuals can suffer from them when in reality, it can affect anyone at any point in their life.

3.    Why is it important to open up about struggles in life?

By speaking out about the struggles in life you open yourself up to new perspectives and viewpoints. This can help you see things in a new light, potentially allowing you to find inner peace and build a healthy relationship with yourself.

4.    How important do you think it is for businesses to recognise the mental health of their staff?

It is so vital for a workplace to focus on the mental health of its employees. No one should be left feeling isolated and alone, unable to ask for help with any issues and concerns they may have. I think that by promoting a healthy workplace and implementing relevant practices and policies, a business can successfully support their employees by allowing them to be open and ask for help, whenever they need it. This in return can aid the employer in building a stronger rapport with the team and encourage a happier working environment overall.

5.    What practices help improve mental wellbeing?

I think that there are no universal ‘set in stone’ methods to improving someone’s mental wellbeing. Everyone has different coping mechanisms; some people may go to the gym, whilst others prefer a long walk or a good read.

However, there’s nothing more important than reaching out to someone and talking about the way you feel. Never forget that support is always available.

There is still so much that can be done to raise mental health awareness and combat the stigma so strongly attached to it. What we can do, as businesses and individuals, is to recognise the importance of a healthy body and mind, nurture it and comfort each other, both in, and outside of work.

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