19 September 2018

Managers improve their understanding at the Business South Mental Health awareness workshop

Business South provides focal point for HR support

“Train everyone to have conversations about mental health.” That was the key message over 40 delegates from business and public sector organisations took from a ‘Making Mental Health WORK’ workshop, hosted by Business South on Wednesday the 12th September.

Mental health expert, Lee Loveless of Supporting Minds Consultancy gave an overview of mental health awareness and its impacts on businesses. He also provided an opportunity to generate practical approaches and techniques to help colleagues struggling with a range of mental health issues.

Representatives from organisations ranging from Southampton Airport and Eastleigh Borough Council through to SMEs and micro-businesses took part in the event at the Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton.

Introducing the session, Shirley Anderson, Chair of the Business South Workforce South Action Group, said, “Many managers find mental health conversations difficult and sometimes they feel that dealing with it might make things worse.”

Lee Loveless homed in on two key areas: knowledge of mental health challenges and confidence in tackling the issues raised. He pointed out that 90% of people with mental health issues will feel stigmatised by other people’s attitudes and, while workplace stress is a strong contributing factor, it is rarely the only issue for the individual as our work and personal lives and feelings are so interconnected.

Delegates also discussed the difficulties in identifying the root cause of mental health issues, whether referring to colleagues or themselves and comprehensive return to work assessments after an absence. Debbie Goodridge, Learning Development Manager at Vivid Housing, explained, “We have been told that, if someone has more than four weeks’ absence with a physical condition, then you should consider their mental health wellbeing on return to work.”

Lee pointed delegates to the many excellent sources of information on mental health policies and support from organisations such as MIND, The Big White Wall and Business in the Community. He concluded that managers need to share the load and ensure all colleagues feel comfortable and confident supporting people at work when they are stressed or facing other mental health challenges.

Business Souths HR Action Group ran the workshop to meet rising demand for more mental health training from HR personnel and those interested in the people agenda around the region, who increasingly recognise the human and business cost of mental health on their organisations.

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