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How to support mental health at work

18-05-2023|Anthony Gougeon

Mental Health Awareness Week runs all of this week from 15th-21st May and this year’s theme is anxiety. Following our recent blog on How to combat the potentially invisible impact of stress in the workplace, this week we’re turning our attention to anxiety with expert advice from the Mental Health Foundation as well as looking at how employees and employers can support mental health at work.

What is anxiety

Anxiety is a normal emotion in us all, but sometimes it can get out of control and become a mental health problem.

Within workplaces, lots of things can lead to feelings of anxiety. It might be deadline pressures, impostor syndrome, skills gaps, social anxiety or pressure to find the right work/life balance. For business owners, there’s the added pressure of keeping the lights on and the balance sheet in the black. Outside of work, there’s also a lot that can weigh heavy on one’s mind. With the current cost of living crisis, workplace worries can then be compounded by personal ones as well, such as putting food on the table or heating one’s home.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems we can face. In a recent mental health survey carried out around stress, anxiety and hopelessness over personal finances, a quarter of adults said they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they want to do some or all of the time.

The aim of the Mental Health Foundation is that focusing on anxiety for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem. At the same time, they will keep up the pressure to demand change – making sure that improving mental health is a key priority for the government and society as a whole.

You can find out more on anxiety, coping strategies and limiting its causes on the Mental Health Foundation’s website here: Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 | Mental Health Foundation

Mental health at work

According to the Mental Health Foundation,

“The value added to the economy by people who are at work and have or have had mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP.

It’s vital that we protect that value by addressing mental health at work for those with existing issues, for those at risk, and for the workforce as a whole.

We believe in workplaces where everyone can thrive. We also believe in the role of employers, employees and businesses in creating thriving communities.”

You can find out more on how to support mental health at work and download a free guide on the Mental Health Foundation’s website here: How to support mental health at work | Mental Health Foundation.

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%. This is something that we firmly believe at Ultimate Finance, but it’s not all about productivity. For us, our approach to wellbeing is rooted in who we are as a business and just one of the ways we can demonstrate and live out our core value of Decency. It’s something that runs right through our business in the new era of work in which we find ourselves. Ultimate Chief Marketing Officer, Yvonne Balfour had this to say,

“It is more important than ever with hybrid working patterns that we are actively and regularly checking in with our team’s wellbeing.  Being able to pick up the early signs that a team member appears to be struggling and getting the support in place quickly is vital so our Mental Health Champions along with our HR team support our managers with some excellent techniques as part of our performance management approach.”  

The Ultimate Approach – Putting our people first

Here at Ultimate Finance, we’re guided by our People Promise. It’s our commitment to our people to ensure we’re consistently making Ultimate Finance a progressive and rewarding place to work. A key part of that People Promise is our approach to health and wellbeing. With a dedicated wellbeing team working alongside our Mental Health First-Aiders, we’re fortunate to be able to run initiatives across our business to support and boost the mental health of our employees such.

Throughout Mental Health Awareness Week we’ve been:

  • Shining a spotlight on counselling (also known as talking therapy), the role it plays in tackling anxiety and highlighting the range of support options available to our people through our Mental Health First Aiders, our Employee Assistance Programme and our company wide private medical insurance from Vitality;
  • There was also a focus on the importance of sleep when it comes to mental health. Wednesday saw a desk drop or delivery from us as a business to all of our employees. The gift? Pillow spray – a simple yet effective measure when it comes to improving sleep and consequently, mental health.
  • Finally, rounding off the week we hosted an internal webinar for employees. Badged as a Mental Health Drop-In Session, in it, our employees heard from some of our senior leaders on their thoughts when it comes to mental health in the workplace.

To find out more on Mental Health Awareness Week and how to get involved, you can visit the Mental Health Foundation’s website here: Mental Health Awareness Week 2023 | Mental Health Foundation

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