When considering workplace mental health, the team at Omniscient Safety Innovations Ltd advise looking at the concept as two sides of the same coin.
Physical health and mental health are two sides of the same coin; and mental health wellbeing and diagnosed mental health illness are two sides of the same coin.
In order to truly break stigma at work we must change our approach and understand that mental health is something we all have, it affects us all every moment, good or negative. From the postman to the prime minister, they all have mental health. To address the continuous increase of mental health issues in our workplace and society we need to stop considering it solely an employee responsibility or one that only requires support after the individual becomes ill.
The picture on the left is me on operations in Afghanistan. The picture on the right is also me, at the House of Lords to receive the British Citizen Award for Service to the Community.
In both of these pictures I have mental health, I was dealing with extreme stress and fatigue while on operations and I felt anxious and excited at being presented an award by the House of Lords, both are pictures of good or poor mental health in action.
I was ill in neither, just simply a man living with mental health in two different situations. The truth is I have mental health every moment of every day just like everyone else often on an ever shifting scale between coping, struggling or crisis.
Businesses are right in the expectation that you have responsibility to manage your wellbeing and talk about mental health issues. However, the business also has a responsibility to prevent harm from hazards in your workplace be it physical or emotional. This is part of the Health & Safety at Work Act and by recent legal findings in the case of Corr (Administratrix of the Estate of T Corr (deceased)) v IBC Vehicles Limited, the House of Lords considered the liability of an employer following the suicide of one of its staff.
The house took the view that Mr Corr, who had severe depression after a workplace accident six years before, had not made a voluntary informed decision to take his own life, and that the employer was liable under the Act, even though the death was self-inflicted.
The accident had been triggered by the employer’s negligence, which led to Mr Corr suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The case raises serious questions as to how far employer obligations to the employee extend if an employee is diagnosed with stress or depression because of an occurrence at work.
If we continue to view physical health and mental health as different subjects, assign all responsibility to employees, and fail to understand the differences between mental health and wellbeing we shall continue to see an increase of work related ill mental health and prosecution.
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