This week a major study was released which, according to The Royal College of Psychiatrists, “finally puts to bed the controversy on antidepressants”.
The analysis includes unpublished data and information from 522 clinical trials which highlight that antidepressants can be over twice as effective as placebo pills when trying to treat mental health. Historically, there has been skepticism over the true effectiveness of antidepressant pills, but now there can be no denying that they actually work.
However, as mental health issues are so complex with over 200 classified forms, the researchers state that medication should not always be the first port of call but should instead form part of a larger treatment. While this proof of the effectiveness of antidepressants in the treatment process is undeniably very good news; it also brings to light yet again the state of the UK’s mental health as a whole.
Mental health still faces a massive taboo in the UK, despite the fact that in any given year, 1 in 4 of the general population will be likely to suffer from a condition. In the workplace, this is just as dominant an issue, with around 1 in 6 workers suffering, but without the support in place that someone may find in their home life. All this is occurring under the radar in most companies because people are afraid to talk about their mental health with the same frankness and openness that they would a broken bone. Employees bottle up their feelings and don’t seek support when needed, which results in 12.7% of all sick days being attributed to mental health; as they feel the office is not a healthy space to process any mental ill health they may be experiencing.
The workplace is a key place to actively work towards changing this negative psyche surrounding mental health, as it’s been proven that providing better support mechanisms within a company can help save UK businesses up to £8 billion a year – money which could instead be injected into economy through R&D departments, job creation or larger disposable incomes for employees. Therefore, it benefits employers both emotionally and financially to consider how to create a more mental health-friendly work environment for their employees.
Now, considering we are all biologically programmed to be different, there is no one method that is effective for all variations of mental health in all humans. However, here are some tips and guides employers can encourage to help anyone who could be suffering silently.
- Connect to other people
In an age of technological dominance, it’s easy to forget the boost to our spirits interacting with other people can have. It can be something as small as a five minute chat over a cup of tea or a much larger socialisation programme with office drinks, gym vouchers or cake mornings.
- Be active
With more flexibility for their breaks during the day, employees can have the ability to go for a walk at lunchtime or get some fresh air throughout the day to boost their spirits and refresh their mindset.
- Take notice
Pay attention to your employees. Remember they are people with complex lives and emotions who may sometimes be going through a tough time. By getting to know your employees and taking the time to talk to them, it will encourage more honesty about their mental health.
- Keep learning
Organise a language class, hold crossword competitions, have stacks of books in the break room… By promoting wider learning in the workplace, employees are given the platform to take a short breather from a challenging task while still training their minds in a different way.
Whether it’s time, energy, friendship or counsel; being more generous in the workplace makes employees feel more welcome and relaxed at work which consequently reduces the likelihood of a mental health issue and increases productivity.
This isn’t by any means an exhaustive list of actions, but these recommendations can help employers start to create workplaces where mental health is openly discussed and cared for; slowly eroding away at the taboo the subject currently faces.