Supporting Employees with Mental Health Difficulties
The number of people reporting mental health issues is increasing. The Mental Health Foundation reports that 1 in 6 people in the last week will have experienced a mental health problem and it is estimated that major depression is the second leading cause of disability across the world. These and other statistics show that this is an issue that needs to be tackled.
When someone is struggling with their mental health it does not occur in neat, contained silos – it can impact on home, leisure and work. And, considering a good proportion of us spend a large amount of our time at work, this is one area that we may notice it the most. MIND report that ‘mental health problems are common among staff - more than seven in ten employees (71%) have experienced mental health problems in their lives, while over one in two (53%) employees are affected by poor mental health in their current workplace.’
However, there may be other factors to consider. An individual with a Neurodiverse condition is more likely to experience a mental health issue than someone without. The extra work that a person with a neurodiversity has to undertake to try and keep up with peers can lead to frustration, low mood, and worry. Anecdotally we see people with a Neurodiverse condition and a mental health issue such as anxiety and depression and find that the latter is impacted by the former because of feeling that they cannot do something that others seem to find easy, that they are worried about certain aspects of their job, that they feel that they should be doing better. Some will report bullying in school or comparison to peers which has an ongoing impact on self-esteem and self-worth.
Research suggests that around 50% of those with Autism Spectrum Conditions will experience anxiety that impacts on their everyday life. Further research has shown that students in HE with dyslexia have higher anxiety levels than those without a learning difficulty. In addition, symptoms of ADHD are linked to anxiety and depression and research suggests that those within adult mental health settings are more likely to have a diagnosis of ADHD than those not in those settings.
So how can we help support those individuals with a mental health issue and a Neurodiverse condition at work? Progress is already being made - MIND report that 56% of employees surveyed feel that they are supported in work with regard to their mental health. This is great, however it could be more.
Below are our top tips for supporting employees and colleagues around their mental health.
1. Have a conversation – however small at first. Talking is the first step in identifying support.
2. Not every person experiences their mental health diagnosis or symptoms the same way – what makes one person anxious or triggers their depression, doesn’t for another.
3. Understand what helps – what manages the anxiety, low mood, depression or other symptoms.
4. Does the impact of the neurodiversity need to be looked at as well? If someone is struggling because of their dyslexia, we may find that offering support for that can help take away some of the feelings of worry or failure.
5. What other support can be offered – look at Lexxic for a MH screening and WPA to help identify triggers and effective support.
6. Ongoing coaching and support can be offered in relation to mental health issues and also any other conditions such as a neurodiversity.
7. As a manager, if you are not sure on how to support your employee – ask for support for yourself, awareness training or building your own knowledge can support you to support your employee.
8. Once support has been identified make sure you actually implement it and that it is maintained and monitored
9. Look at your organisation as a whole and make sure it is open and friendly to support those with MH issues and that your employees know.
10. Can you introduce whole organisation strategies – wellbeing meetings or checks, lunch time yoga or mindfulness sessions?
If you would like further information regarding any of our services, contact our case management team on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 643 2754 and they will be happy to help.
By Rebecca Wones, Head of Psychological Assessment at Lexxic