Mental Health Awareness week takes place between May 8-14. The week aims to raise awareness of the mental health problems that so many people face. The focus this year is to try and understand why people are surviving and not thriving.
There are numerous reasons why people have mental health issues. The demands and stress of everyday life can equate to feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope.
The workplace is one of the many components that can cause stress and anxiety. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that in 2015/16, the number of cases of workplace-related stress and anxiety was over 450,000. As a result of this, over 11 million days of work were lost during the year. A combination of factors contribute to people feeling stressed and anxious, but workload pressures and lack of managerial support are two key areas for concern.
It’s common for all jobs to have stressful times, but allowing the stress to dominate and become a mental health issue is something that neither employees or employers want. It’s also not something that employers should ever allow to happen.
Many organisations are promoting mindfulness as a way of helping their employees cope with stress. Mindfulness practice has gained a lot of popularity and recognition as a way of preventing mental health problems at work, while also helping people be more focused and productive. Sending staff on mindfulness training can be extremely beneficial, particularly for managers.
Which Jobs and Positions are the Most Stressful?
Both managers and employees can feel stress at work. Employees can feel a lack of support, or feel they are given work which doesn’t match their knowledge or responsibilities. Managers can feel stress from clients, employees and senior managers. Middle managers often receive the most pressure from varying people in the workplace.
Jobs in the public sector are generally seen to have particularly high levels of stress. Social workers, teachers and prison officers are just a few jobs in which extreme stress can be prevalent.
Bottling up the feelings of anxiety or stress can allow the problems to escalate. If people aren’t sure what to do with these feelings, it can lead to serious bouts of anxiety and depression. It’s important to make sure that all employees know that there is somebody to talk to and that, overall, mental health and Wellbeing is more important than their workload.
Helping Managers Deal with Stress
There are a number of ways that companies can help managers (and employees) deal with stress and pressure in the workplace.
Identifying Help and Support – If middle managers feel isolated, they are less likely to talk to somebody about the stress and pressure they feel. It’s important to identify another member of staff for them to talk to. If it is a particularly stressful time in the company, workplace counselling can be very beneficial.
Finding the Root of the Problem – If a manager has a few minor problems, this can escalate into major problems or make people feel overwhelmed. Often, the workload can be resolved by simply prioritising and assigning work elsewhere. If you are a senior manager, take the time to sit down with a manager and discuss if the workload is too much and if it can be divided up.
Chill-Out Zone – Many companies have created a chill-out zone in office spaces. This is a space for employers and managers to come to and take some time to relax or do some recreational activities. It’s a good opportunity to take their eyes off a screen and take their mind off any stressful work.
Effective Training – Management training is so important. Effective training can help managers deal with stress and reduce the chances of problems occurring. External training companies have a wealth of experience and can advise managers how to keep on top of tasks and pressure. They can teach managers how to prioritise and find the root cause of where the stress is coming from.
Define Work and Home Life – Once you leave the office for the day, it’s important to leave work there. There is no need to check emails or take that call once you’ve left. Make time for your home life and don’t let the two sides cross over.
What to do for Mental Health Awareness Week
Mental Health Awareness week is an excellent opportunity to raise awareness and emphasise to employees that stress and anxiety can affect all of us. We want to thrive, not simply survive. Be there for your colleagues and make sure people feel supported.
Christine MacDonald is the director of The Hub Events. Christine knows that managers need to feel supported and have to deal with a great amount of pressure. This is why The Hub Events offers a variety of management training, including a focus on becoming a resilient leader.
Christine MacDonald, Director of The Hub Events