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Mental wellbeing at work – a no-brainer?

Written by Koen Smets (8 Oct 2017)

How an enlightened employer looks after staff wellbeing by integrating Headsted's Shift Your Stress into everyday work

Statistics can be depressing. Few more so than the latest estimate of the number of people that have experienced workplace-related stress, anxiety or depression. The UK’s Health and Safety Executive reports that, according to the Labour Force Survey, there were 488,000 such cases in 2015-2016, or 1510 per 100,000 workers.

With such numbers it is not surprising that this year’s World Mental Health day aims to raise awareness around mental health in the workplace.

Who cares about employees' mental health?

Unfortunately, just like in the world at large, mental health is often still a bit of a taboo in the workplace, for both employers and employees. Companies are more likely to offer their staff things like gym membership or incentives for cycling to work, and employees are more likely to raise a problem with lower back pain or migraine than with low mood or anxiety.

Part of the problem is that employers may not have a good handle on what to do to, and that contributes to a pernicious social norm. Mental wellbeing is, and remains, something that is not for discussion at work. That causes a lot of unnecessary pain – both from a human perspective (hundreds of thousands of people suffering in silence), and from an economic viewpoint (11.7 million lost working days in the UK in 2015-Thi16).

The World Mental Health day initiative can help find a place for mental wellbeing on the corporate agenda. Ways to support staff – both to prevent mental strain getting out of control, and helping them deal with stress, anxiety or mild depression – can and should become as self-evident as providing wash basins in the lavatories and ensure hygienic standards in the workplace premises.

Europe's best workplace uses Shift Your Stress

Some employers blaze the trail, though. Finnish software developer Vincit, winner of the ‘Best workplace in Europe’ award in 2016, gives psychological wellbeing a central place in its Leadership as a Service platform. We are proud that they have chosen Headsted’s Shift Your Stress programme as a way to help not just their more than 350 staff keep mentally well, but also to help other companies develop.

Johanna Pystynen, Vincit’s Director of People Operations, says this about our workplace stress intervention:

“It is easy to use and integrate to everyday work. The programme fits well with our model of Leadership as a Service, which enables each employee to work and develop in a self-guided manner. We want our employees to make decisions about their own work, and we offer individual support according to each person's needs and abilities. Headsted's stress intervention offers a preventative tool for early symptoms of stress, and teaches self-management skills that allow people to take responsibility of their own productivity and wellbeing at work.”

If you want to find out more about Shift Your Stress, check out our one-pager, or contact us for a chat.

On the occasion of World Mental Health day, we are also making one of Shift Your Stress's most popular audio exercises available as a free MP3 download – just click here.

Mental wellbeing at work? It really is a no-brainer.