News - 01 November 2021

Employers encouraged to start conversations in the workplace ahead of International Stress Awareness Day

Employers are being encouraged to start conservations about mental health in their workplaces by a region-wide mental health initiative, ahead of International Stress Awareness Day.

The day falls on Wednesday 3 November, and the Mental Health and Productivity Pilot (MHPP) has highlighted how its ‘Bridge the Gap, Start a Chat’ campaign gives advice to employers on how to help staff feel more confident to start conversations around stress and other common mental health conditions.

MHPP’s research shows that since the pandemic, employees in the Midlands feel less able to talk about mental health and that managers are finding it harder to spot the warning signs when staff need support.

Employers can access a range of free tools and resources to help run campaigns in their workplace to encourage talking about mental health at work including downloadable leaflets and guidance for developing a mental health strategy.

Helping manage stress in the workplace

Dr Talar Moukhtarian, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Warwick, said: “Stress, especially in the short term, is a perfectly normal part of working life, even if we love what we do. Big projects or deadlines can cause it, and some people thrive in these conditions.

“But stress can also be triggered by other factors which may not be situational, such as excessive workload, lack of support, poor work-life balance and working relationships.

“If employees are regularly feeling stressed, that can indicate a more serious problem and can manifest physically, such as a headache or chest pain, or psychologically. It is crucial that employees encourage staff going through this to speak out and get the support they need.

“If staff are discouraged from sharing their worries or seeking help for whatever reason, it can lead to burnout, which can result in staff being off work for a significant length of time.

“An organisation being proactive on mental health by regularly asking how staff are feeling, encouraging honest conversations, and signposting staff to places that can help should they need it, can all enable staff to deal with stress in a healthy way.

“This International Stress Awareness Day, we are encouraging Midlands employers to make a commitment to improving staff mental health and support them to have conversations.

“A great first step would be to download our free employer resource pack, which has all the tools employers need to get started.

“It gives tips and advice on how employers can help their staff to talk openly about mental health, such as how to strike the right tone with your staff, using activities like ‘temperature checks’ to assess staff wellbeing, and how to direct staff to support should they need it.”

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