In England, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year, with over 792 million people being affected by a mental health condition worldwide. Ignorance often dominates mental illness, as people who are not educated in mental health awareness are quick to dismiss conditions as they don’t fully understand them. 70-75% of people with diagnosable mental illnesses receive no treatment at all, usually going about life masking their symptoms, often not seeking treatment as they are unaware they have a diagnosable mental health condition themselves.
Having reasonable adjustments within the workplace to accommodate mental health conditions is an excellent step in the right direction by not only helping to relieve the impact of mental health conditions but also helping to combat chronic stress within the workplace (which can lead to burnout). 1 in 5 people take a day off due to stress, yet 90% of people cited a different reason for their absence due to stress and mental health-related reasons not being fully understood.
A shocking 9% of employers who disclosed mental health issues to their line manager reported being disciplined, dismissed, or demoted. Which is no surprise considering 69% of UK line managers say that supporting employee wellbeing is a core skill, but only 13% have received mental health training.
Zenith Training offers a free* distance learning course in ‘Mental Health First Aid & Mental Health Advocacy in the Workplace’ More info at Health and Safety, First Aid & Fire Safety Training – Zenith Training.
How can the workplace make reasonable mental health adjustments?
Having these adjustments in place also makes sense from a business perspective, as ill mental health is responsible for 72 million working days lost, which equates to £34.9 billion each year nationally. It is also the law, under The Equality Act 2010, it is a requirement that an employer makes reasonable adjustments for people with disabilities to do their jobs. The act states that a person is disabled if: they have a mental or physical impairment, which has substantial and long term adverse effects on a person’s ability to carry out normal day to day activities.
Reasonable adjustments include:
– Adjusting the recruitment induction stage by allowing more time for tests, inductions, and interviews. This can help individuals on the neurodivergent spectrum, such as those with Autism or ADHD.
– The potential to adjust working hours and patterns. Allowing variations in working hours or flexible working enables people to work and function at their best and most productive time of day. Similarly, splitting a more extended break or adding shorter breaks throughout the day would benefit someone who cannot concentrate for long periods.
– A change of workplace environment. Some people may not be able to work effectively in noisy environments with endless distractions.
– Making the office a bright, airy environment may also be beneficial.
Alongside reasonable adjustments, the workplace must be a mentally healthy environment; this can be implemented by establishing a health-conscious mental culture by promoting good mental health practices all year round.
Mental health is just as crucial as physical health, so it is vital that it is looked after, and we all take the time to do so.
We are fortunate to live in a society that is now more open to change than ever; as the stigma around mental illness, especially more severe diagnoses, decreases, more people recognise the signs and symptoms of mental illness and can seek help for themselves and others. We exist in a world where TikTok and YouTube are able to provide educational resources that compete with official mental health services. Advocates for mental illness exist on all platforms, both online and in real life; it is up to us to continue to fight the stigma around mental illness, both in the workplace and out.
For further information, take a look at these educational, mental health resources below: