Understanding mental health conditions

ACAS classifies mental health as ‘the mental and emotional state in which we feel able to cope with the normal stresses of everyday life.’ The advisory service further explains that when an employee is feeling positive about themselves, they are able to work more productively, interact better with colleagues and make valuable contributions to a team or workplace.

There are many different variations of mental health conditions that individuals can experience. They range from conditions such as stress, anxiety and depression, to rarer diagnoses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Some individuals may experience certain mental health conditions from birth, whereas others will develop over time or following an incident in a person’s life.

Mental health is recognised as a positive, for example, a small degree of stress can make an individual work harder, pay closer attention to detail and have a higher degree of commitment. However, a period of poor mental health can make it more difficult for an employee to think, feel and respond to situations; ultimately affecting their general performance within their day-to-day role. With many conditions, there are likely to be periods where a person is not suffering from poor mental health, and times when their mental health affects their ability to carry out normal activities.

Any person can suffer from a mental illness and identifying if there is an underlying problem can be difficult, both externally and internally. At any time, it is likely an organisation will be employing an individual who is suffering from poor mental health, or will go on to develop a mental health condition. Many individuals are able to continue carrying out their normal daily working activities, whilst some will require adjustments to be made to remain in employment.

Statistics show that 91 million days are lost every year in the UK due to mental health problems, with nearly half of all long-term sickness absences being caused by poor mental health. By 2018, the total annual cost to the UK economy of mental health conditions was calculated as being in excess of £30bn.

It is, therefore, essential that employers are able to fully respond to this issue in a positive and supportive manner.

For further information on mental health in the workplace, please contact us on 01733 217 690.

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