By s1jobs


The immense impact of Covid has led to growing acceptance that pastoral care in the workplace makes both moral and business sense, with a 26 per cent increase in the number of organisations offering mental health first aid training since the start of the pandemic. Yet for all the progress that has been made, there’s still a good deal further to go.

A recent poll by payroll and HR software provider MHR found that 47% of more than 6,000 UK workers questioned said they would be uncomfortable discussing mental health at work, and fear that being honest about their psychological wellbeing could harm their career. More than a third of those surveyed said they had taken time off in 2021 for their mental health.

As recently as 2017 a report from Business in the Community found that 15% of those who had revealed mental health issues to their employer experienced some form of backlash including disciplinary action, demotion or even dismissal. Little wonder then that many opt to quietly retreat when they’re struggling.


It seems clear that much of the investment in training is failing to have the desired effect, with the stigma around mental health still very much present in the workplace. Business leaders need to earnestly consider whether it’s time to re-evaluate their approaches to this tricky topic.

First and foremost, business owners and senior managers need to lead by example. Mental health is not an “HR issue” and the more people talk openly about it, the sooner the taboos will fall away.

It’s also vital to acknowledge that poor mental health isn’t rare and can impact anyone. According to the charity Mind, one in four people will experience issues in any given year. The situation has worsened as the pandemic has progressed, with the number of adults reporting experiences of depression rising from 19% in June 2020 to 21% by the early part of 2021.

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On a far more positive note, most of these problems can be fixed as mental health issues are rarely permanent. Treatment needs to be viewed in the same light as glasses to correct poor vision, or a plaster to mend a broken arm.

It’s all down to the culture within an organisation. Compassion and empathy are more than ever needed as the fallout from the Covid crisis – lost lives, bankrupt businesses, interrupted education, financial uncertainty, and increased isolation – threatens to trigger a secondary mental health crisis. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away.

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