It’s #TimetoTalk

Thursday 5 February is #TimetoTalk day. Here at the CIPD, we’ll be encouraging people to take five minutes to have a conversation about mental health, in particular the myths and facts around it. We want to help break the silence as we know that having a mental health problem is hard enough, without feeling you can’t speak up when things are difficult. Just a short conversation can make a big difference to someone and lets them know they’re not on their own.

Right now, one in six workers is dealing with a mental health problem. And in our latest CIPD Absence Management survey, two out of five employers said they’d seen an increase in reported mental health problems in the past year. How comfortable do you and your colleagues or friends feel about speaking up when you’re struggling? Let’s keep working to break down the stigma around it, and talk about mental health as readily as we would about a broken arm.

A Department for Health report published in 2011 said there’s no health without mental health. It’s so true that we talk about physical health much more readily than we do mental health. There are some simple ways we can support mental health and wellbeing at work:

Are you being your own best friend? Think about how you support your own mental health and well-being. We often get caught up in supporting other people or ‘life just takes over’ and we can forget to look after ourselves. Perhaps we could encourage people to leave their desks at lunchtime and take proper breaks. Or a gentle reminder to take annual leave entitlement. 

How comfortable do you feel talking to your friends or colleagues about mental health? Sometimes, it’s the little things that make the biggest difference. The #TimetoTalk advert explains how asking someone how they are is all it takes to make a difference to how they're feeling.

Do you know what support your organisation offers? Often employers invest in employee assistance programmes and counseling services for their staff, but sometimes staff don’t know how to access them. Ask your HR department to do a desk drop, put up posters and put the contact numbers for these services on the intranet.

Where can people go for help if they need it? Although the aim of Time to Talk Day is to get people talking about mental health in general (e.g. myths and facts) rather than about an individual’s own mental health, conversations may become distressing for people. The organisation Time to Change has developed a list of mental health help and support services: take a look here.

Get involved in #TimetoTalk day: Take five minutes on 5 February to have a conversation about mental health. Talk at work over a cup of tea, online, or with your friends and family. Find out more here.

*updated Sept 2015

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  • Anonymous

    I hope this comment is not detracting from the formal comment policy, however when I seen this blog I thought it was a good opportunity for me to seek advice from you HR professionals.

    I'm currently working with a lady who suffers from anxiety, although that's what we think it is. She's worked for the company for 8 years and has getting worse. She's gone from hitting herself on the head to brushing her hair (probably to control the hitting herself on the head) She's done the same job for 8 years and the manager has not changed or given her any extra work since she first started as she's afraid it will tip her over the edge. We've heard her talking to someone who is not there, telling them to go away I'm busy.

    I really don't know how to deal with this situation. I have advised her to seek help from her doctors but I really believe she's afraid as she thinks she could be sectioned.

    I know we can request her doctors record which relates to her mental health but I know she will not authorise this with her doctors. I thought about reducing her hours a little but again I think this would put more pressure on her. We are small family business and unfortunately don't have any councillor's in the work place.

    Has anyone every came across a situation like this?

  • Anonymous

    If only more organisations would make the linkages between a positive and supportive organisational culture and the mental health of its workforce an awful lot of sickness absence, reduced productivity and costs to society and the NHS could be prevented.   We need much more open and transparent leaders who lead in a collaborative way and HR teams that take a holistic approach to the health and wellbeing of their workforce as part of an overall HR strategy.    Sadly this is still an aspiration in far too many organisations - HR professionals need to take the lead and demonstrate the value of positive mental health to the organisation.

  • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences - it's been really helpful to read your different perspectives on such an important area as mental health (and on #TimetoTalk day).

    This is an area I'm particularly passionate about and, as a few people asked about resources and guidance, I thought it would be helpful to say that I've personally found the Mind website to be really useful. And alongside Mind, CIPD has put together a guide for HR and line managers about how to best support employees who may be struggling:

    A particular poignant thing for me is that mental health is often largely invisible, unlike a broken arm in a sling. We're getting better at talking about mental health but I feel we still have a long way to go, so thank you for sharing your views.

  • I work both as an independent consultant, within HR and also as a Psychotherapist, and I see how very challenging it is for individuals to balance their organisational/job pressures alongside often complex lives.  We all have mental health 'problems' at some point in our lives when dealing with issues like death of a loved one; relationship breakdown and serious illness.

    How the organisation shows its humanity to both spot and support individuals who are experiencing problems is rarely forgotten by the affected individual (or his/her colleagues).

    There is room for the CIPD to do more to influence the debate on how organisations stay compassionate in the treatment of their employees, as well as business-focused and agile.  It makes sound economic sense over the medium to long-term to nurture the most important asset in most organisations.