Mental health illness affects everyone, we often hear about the high profile cases however 31% of the 27m employees in England have a diagnosable mental illness (75% of whom are not receiving treatment).
The UK government estimates the cost of mental illness to the economy at £121bn, around 4% of GDP
Importantly £45bn could be saved by a more preventative approach. The cost to business is estimated at £33-£42bn through absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover.
I have been reading several high profile cases in business highlighted by Time to Change and it is clear that preventative approaches are not in place.
After the story of António Horta-Osório (Lloyds CEO), Lloyds now have a program to make sure this does not reoccur for their leadership team going forward called the Optimal Leadership Resilence Programme. I would hope this is channeled through the organisation and this strong leadership helps others.
Reading the article below in the Times about Virgin Money and Lloyds CEOs reminds us that even those with large sums of money and power are affected. Equally it demonstrates that it requires these individuals to lead change, as they both say "mental illness in the workplace...can be overcome with the support of the employer."
I am reading a book that was recommended by Jim Woods, CEO Better Space, called 'Lost Connections' by Johann Hari. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to lead change to help understand what effects mental wellbeing.
Here are four areas I would consider for your organisation in relation to employee wellbeing:
- Loneliness - how connected are your employees? Studies show that those who are lonely become more depressed and those that are more connected become less depressed. Loneliness leads to depression. People need tribes. Can you positively impact this?
- Control over your work - High degree of control on your work leads to less depression. This leads to outside of work too. So when people don’t have autonomy their life is not full and just feel shattered (going home and not enriching themselves further). Whilst not everyone can lead the business, you can certainly provide degrees of control.
- Disempowerment - happens when there is a lack of balance between efforts and rewards. It is at the heart of poor health - physical, mental and emotional. The signal that is received by an employee is 'I am irrelevant and no one cares'. How are you balancing efforts/reward?
- Lack of goals and direction - Sense of a positive future protects you. If life is bad today you can at least see the overall positive direction you are moving in and stick with it. Enabling your employees to set goals will help with their personal wellbeing and company success.
There are many other areas that have an impact on mental wellbeing however these are four that can be very quickly defined to management and proactively changed tomorrow.
For anyone looking at this topic please do drop me a line. It is an area I have become familiar with and wish to explore/discuss. I'd also be happy to provide a copy of Johann's book for you to read with highlighted key topics I found of use.
This is particularly acute in the City – a good ten steps behind other workplace cultures in terms of good emotional practice – in which difficulties such as anxiety, sleeplessness or breakdown can be stigmatised as “character” weakness. When, for example, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the CEO of Virgin Money, suffered depression, even she thought of it initially as a sign of her own weakness. “We are all human. We all suffer,” she tells me And so it was for António Horta-Osório. As he admits, “I was very close to breaking.” Recovering and ensuring it never happened again through honesty and a talking cure, “required some learning, I admit”. – mental illness in the workplace, whether it is anxiety, overwork, stress or insomnia, can be overcome with the support of the employer.