It’s World Mental Health Day today and according to the Health and Safety Executive one in four people in the UK will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives. Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health problems. These are often a reaction to a difficult life event, such as bereavement. But with today’s increasing busy lifestyles, we are seeing a rise of stress both at home and in the workplace.
Tackling well-being issues in the workplace is a hot topic. Some campaigners are even calling for the government to make mental health first aiders at work compulsory.
With over six million lone workers in the UK are they more at risk of stress than other employees?
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) defines a Lone Worker as “those who work by themselves without close or direct supervision.” The law requires employers to consider carefully, and then deal with, any health and safety risks for people working alone. Employers are also responsible for the welfare of all their workers, so it’s important they are aware of the possible causes of stress that these employees in particular can face.
How do mental health issues impact lone workers?
According to research commissioned by EE and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, 49% of people admitted they’ve felt uncomfortable while working alone. Yet they did not take action as they were nervous about the consequences or felt threatened by a person’s behaviour and didn’t want to make it worse. This is a cause of unnecessary stress which can have a detrimental effect on an employee’s mental health.
Lone workers can also feel disconnected without regular contact and engagement with other employees. With the business world moving at such a fast pace, it’s important we don’t forget to check that our lone workers; feel involved; that they have the same access to support as office-based employees; and that the business delivers continuous communication between lone worker and the workplace.
Your lone workers need complete peace of mind and to know that they are safe. Perhaps consider offering them protection when working alone with a lone worker alarm. These provide 24 hour backup from an ARC and the ability to speak to another person, should they feel threatened. It’s important to show employers care about their workers. In turn this would have a good effect on the employee’s morale, mental health and wellbeing.
Experts in mental health suggest that we should all take three steps: talk, train and take action.
This is something employers should encourage their staff to take time out to think about this World Mental Health Day.