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IoD Mental Health Hub

Prince Harry talking this weekend about his psychological struggle with the death of his mother underlines the fact it doesn’t matter what you do or who you are, mental health is no longer an issue that can be ignored 

The Institute of Directors is committed to opening up the conversation for small - and medium-sized businesses, which often lack the resources of larger corporate organisations to address their employees’ mental health.  To support this, we have created an online 'mental health hub’ for members to help business leaders promote and nurture good mental health in the workplace — and to help them spot the signs of mental health problems and know how to help. It includes advice on everything from employment law in relation to mental health to shared experiences from business leaders as to how they look after their own mental health and that of their employees.

The resource was in response to a recent survey of IoD members showed that they recognise the importance of mental health but lack a strategy to successfully manage it.  Though more than 80% believe good workplace mental health is important, fewer than one in seven IoD members (14%) have a formal mental health policy in their workplace. That’s despite more than half (54%) of IoD members have been approached by staff complaining of poor mental health. Business impact includes poor quality of work and decision making, with higher staff turnover and workplace conflict also recognised as dangers.

ACAS classifies mental health as, ‘the mental and emotional state in which we feel able to cope with the normal stresses of everyday life.

‘If we are feeling good about ourselves we often work productively, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to our team or workplace.

‘Positive mental health is rarely an absolute state. One may feel in good mental health generally but also suffer stress and anxiety from time to time.'

Approaching an employer to share the fact that you have psychological pressures in your life, be they temporary or longer term, should not be another challenge you have to deal with and it’s encouraging that members acknowledge that they are behind the curve. There may come a time when people are as comfortable talking about their mental health as they are talking about going to the dentist, but we’re not there yet.  Businesses need to understand that they have a critical role in creating a supportive environment where issues can be discussed openly, effectively, confidentially and safely.  We need to be open about working together with organisations and charities that work specifically with mental health issues to bridge the gap between support that is sought outside of work and that which can be offered within the workplace.

As the UK approaches full employment, this is also commercially astute.  Good employees have more choice than ever about where to work, and a robust mental health policy should be an attractive incentive when choosing future employers.  According to the CIPD good mental health should mean not just a reduction in absenteeism, but less obvious benefits such as a reduction in conflict with colleagues, better concentration, increased speed and better patience which, in turn, results in better customer service. If Prince Harry can do it, so can you.

Angela Piromalli - Chairman of Dorset IoD and Managing Director of Rock Recruitment

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