Time to Talk day was created by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness, two of the country’s biggest mental health organisations. The event was created to encourage people to start talking only about their mental health as having conversations about our mental health can help both ourselves and others.
Why is talking so important?
- One in four of us will experience a mental health problem in any given year
- One in six people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as depression and anxiety) each week
- One in five people have suicidal thoughts
- Men are three times more likely to take their own life than women
GoodShape’s UK PLC 2021 Workforce Health Report reveals that in 2021, poor mental health accounted for 19% of all lost working time across the country with an average length of 18.8 days of mental health related absence. This highlights that mental illness is not just a ‘personal problem’ but also affects the workplace.
A 2017 poll found that only 13% of employees are comfortable talking about mental illness at work and alarmingly, 54% of workers who take two or more mental health related absences will go on to leave their jobs.
How can you encourage your team to talk?
This doesn’t have to be in the workplace if your employees aren’t comfortable in doing so, but by providing them with the right tools and positive reinforcement, conversations could start happening with friends and family or even co-workers.
Mental health can be tricky to talk about sometimes, so Mind and Rethink have put together some of their useful tips for talking and listening about mental health.
- Ask questions and listen. Asking open questions allows the other person to talk about how they are feeling and what they are going through. By asking questions, this shows the other person that you genuinely care and will help them to open up.
- Time and place. Some people may find it easier to talk side by side rather than face to face. This can help to take some pressure off the person who is discussing their mental health, so try going for a walk or doing an activity whilst you have a conversation.
- Don’t try and fix it. Unless the person has directly asked for some advice, it is often best to just listen. The other person has most likely already tried many solutions so you don’t want to accidentally make them feel inadequate or that these solutions should have worked. Learning to manage or recover from mental health problems is a long journey.
- Treat them the same. They are still the same person! So please treat them as you always would and do the things you would normally do.
- Be patient. Some people may not be ready to open up about what they are going through. In asking how they are doing you have made it easier for them to open up to you in the future if they wish.
Additionally, in the workplace you may find that holding regular 1:1’s with your team makes it easier for them to speak with you about any difficulties that they may have. A 1:1 provides a safe and confidential space to talk without the individual having to ‘find the right time’ to approach you for a conversation.
At Healthy Performance, our department heads carry out 1:1’s with their teams on a weekly basis and use this time to build solid working relationships and discuss the plan for the week ahead, as well as ensuring that everyone is doing okay and offering support where required.
So, what steps will you take to ensure that your employees are comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace?
For some inspiration, visit the Time to Talk ‘how to take part’ page here: https://timetotalkday.co.uk/how-to-take-part/employers/