More than 14% of people in the UK experience mental health problems in the workplace and unless this problem is addressed, this figure may rise.
However, for those running a small business, the rewards may be overshadowed by these problems and it can be hard to know how to tackle the issue. 
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Unfortunately, there is a stigma surrounding mental health. In order to provide proper support for those struggling, it is important to remove this stigma and put measures in place to protect people in the workplace.
However, with a lot of people finding it difficult to open up about their mental wellbeing problems, it falls on employers to offer support.
In days gone by, employers may have placed a focus on physical health, but many employees are now more concerned with how their mental health is functioning and companies should be paying attention to this.
There are many ways in which mental health can be negatively impacted. One of the key aspects when attempting to tackle this in the workplace is to look at what may have caused the problem.
It could be related to stress in the workplace, poor staff relationships, or staff being concerned about how their managers and co-workers may react to their cognitive conditions.
The impact of poor mental health can be devastating to employees but there is also a direct impact for small businesses including higher staff turnover, a lack of productivity, and more sick days.
It is essential that employers are able to effectively remove the stigma and encourage workers to open up about their issues as well as being sure that the subject is handled sensitively and support is provided.
Modern life and the stresses it bring makes placing a focus on mental health more important than ever since problems are much more likely to arise. It is important to provide employees with support and encourage their mental wellbeing in order to have a thriving and successful workplace.
Most people have a friend, family member, or colleague that suffers from a mental health problem, and the number of people experiencing problems is growing rapidly. It is, therefore, extremely important to address the issue to prevent it from worsening over time. 
Many people will be affected by mental health at some point in their lives, whether personally or helping a loved one to deal with their problems and where a business is concerned. There are many reasons to ensure that employees’ wellbeing is looked after which are listed below:
It is astonishing to learn that the cost of mental health to businesses is as high as £1200 per employee annually, this equates to as much as £42 billion - which is a staggering figure. Addressing the problem, could significantly lower these figures.
Without proper management of mental health in the workplace, employee engagement could be negatively affected. Research shows that there is a direct link between employee engagement and absences which means that it makes sense for companies to stay on top of engaging with their staff.
In the United Kingdom, it has been demonstrated that sick days are mostly caused by mental health and stress problems.
In many cases, this is reflected in long-term periods of absence for up to four weeks. This is costing businesses substantially between £1100 and £1800 per employee, per year.
One way that businesses are affected by mental health is when staff turn up to work whilst they are not well which can translate into lack of productivity. It is, therefore, important that businesses are able to offer support in allowing time off and returning to work to avoid the rising cost of presenteeism which is currently exceeding the cost of absences.
What's more, when employees feel as though they have to go to work despite their problems with mental health, this can exacerbate their condition which leads to poor decision making, a lack of motivation, and increased conflict with co-workers amongst other things.
If mental health is not effectively managed in the workplace there is a greater risk of businesses losing their most valued members of staff. Studies have shown that those struggling with mental health may lose their job more than twice as often as those who are mentally healthy.
It has been shown that the most frequent cause of conflict within the workplace is related to stress and if mental health isn't managed, this could cause additional problems. For example, strained relationships in the wider team.
Communication is key when facing mental health and if one of your staff discloses a problem to you or you suspect they may be struggling, you should follow these steps:
It is important to approach mental health in the correct way if support and understanding is to be given. Here are some questions that you can ask when broaching the subject of mental health.
However, there are also questions that you should avoid asking or consider the wording in a different way. These might include any of the following:
With as many as one in four people struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression in the workplace, it is important for employers to take steps to prevent this. Take a look at the steps below to see how you can easily implement these strategies:
For business owners, establishing a strong role as leader and influencer is integral to any role. But in terms of mental health, it's important to appear as a person too - not just someone your employees work with.
One of the best ways to tackle problems with mental health is to talk to other people about how you are feeling and this is something that employers can offer to their staff.
It can be difficult for people to open up so offering a non-judgemental and supportive ear can be the difference between the person recovering and not. It is also important to encourage people to seek professional advice and support as an additional way of opening up about their struggles.
While talking about personal issues or family problems may be too intense for some, talking about work may be more of a comfortable zone. Studies have shown that workplaces who discuss their workload with one another achieve better results, have a higher team spirit, and have fewer issues in the work environment relating to stress, falling out, and absence.
Workloads, deadlines, or complicated processes we do not understand as employees can sometimes take its toll on our mental health. Make sure your team knows that if they are struggling, they can just approach you about work-related issues.
Many people have undergone physical first aid training but more and more employers are noting the importance of mental health first aid which helps people develop an understanding of what to do in a crisis.
It will also allow employees to learn how to talk about mental health in the most effective way as well as equipping them with the necessary knowledge to protect their own mental health.
In order to ensure the best mental health of all the employees within a business, it is important to be flexible in a practical sense. You should be prepared to make adjustments to make recovering from a mental health condition or managing it on a daily basis, easier. This might include some of the following things:
It is vital that supervisors and line managers are able to effectively reduce stress levels in employees by being open, honest, and consistent. They should also be effective at handling conflicts and building strong relationships with staff. What’s more, they should have a good knowledge of mental health and be able to offer support for personal development.
Failure to provide an informative and positive induction to the workplace can raise the risk of stress in employees. The induction should cover a variety of topics such as a one-to-one meeting with managers, information on health and safety, details of their job role, a tour of the workplace, and any other relevant information to make the transition into work as seamless as possible.
Not only does good management mean less stress but it can also build stronger and healthier relationships between employers and their staff. As a result of this, productivity and motivation are raised.
But more importantly, this relationship will mean that managers are more easily able to spot the signs of the onset of a mental health condition and can address it quickly offering support to the staff member.
Managers can provide employees with strategies for coping and for building resilience. This should be done both as part of a team as well as individuals and can also take on an approach from an organisational level.
Managers can lead by example and review the wellbeing of the entire team as well as offering risk assessments relating to stress across the board.
Are you feeling the strain of an increasing workload, or are struggling with some issues at work? Below we have listed some tips for you:
The government has recognised that depression is the top mental health issue and is costing businesses up to an 8% lack of productivity. But this could be addressed by encouraging staff to reach out for help and there are various options for this.