Today it is World Mental Health Day 2018.
Today, I have officially been employed by Mind for 36 days.
Today also brings the total number of days I have started work late, left work early, or worked from home due to poor mental or physical health to a grand total of 12.
And yet, I am still employed by Mind; I am still gaining a wealth of experience; I am still meeting my deadlines and goals; and I am still being assured that I am on track, that my work is useful, and that my presence here is valuable.
This is why a mentally healthy workplace is so important to me.
I started working at Mind less than six weeks ago. It is my first ‘proper’ job, and already the impact of my physical and mental health difficulties has made the transition especially challenging to navigate.
However, the support and encouragement I have received from my line manager, colleagues and wider network at Mind have been a lifeline that has enabled me to stay in the role.
I am very lucky to work for a mental health charity that looks after their employees so well, and I am even luckier that I work in a department called ‘Workplace Wellbeing’. The role of the Workplace Wellbeing team at Mind is to advise organisations on how they can effectively support employees experiencing mental health problems, and boost the wellbeing of each and every member of staff. Given my experiences, I know all too well the importance of having employees’ wellbeing supported in the workplace.
The Workplace Wellbeing team, and Mind in general have been star examples of actually practicing what they preach. Having been so supported here since day one, I feel all the more passionate about the importance of training, awareness and organisational change around issues related to mental health and wellbeing across workplaces nationally.
Whilst I have been extremely fortunate to have so much support on offer, unfortunately, this is a rare experience; A poll by Mind in 2014[i] revealed that a staggering 95% of people who have had to take time off due to workplace stress did not feel able to tell their employer the true reason for their absence.
[i] Mind (2014). Mind YouGov Poll 2014.
This is obviously something that needs to be addressed within all organisations if they want their employees to be more comprehensively supported. There are thousands of people out there with massive potential, who although capable of adding immense value to the workforce and society, do not have access to the support they need to enable them to find or stay in a job.
And the argument for mental health awareness and training at work is not just for the benefit individuals. It has been highlighted that organisations that prioritise employee engagement and wellbeing outperform those that do not. By supporting staff wellbeing, they reap the benefits through enhanced morale, loyalty, commitment, innovation, productivity and profitability[i].
In short: It is everyone involved who benefits.
So what exactly have Mind done to support me, and what can other organisations learn from this?
These are just a few examples of simple adjustments that can be made by organisations to support those with mental or physical health difficulties.
Perhaps though, what has been most important for me over these past six weeks at Mind has been the culture of the workplace – as one that is open, supportive, non-judgmental and doesn’t stigmatise people like me with long-term mental health issues.
[i] Soma Analytics (2017). Mental Health and Wellbeing: FTSE 100 Report.
Blog by one of our brilliant Charityworks Trainees working at Mind.