Time to Talk – about mental health

4th February 2021

According to The Mental Health Foundation, as many as 3 in 10 employees will experience a mental health problem in any one year with as many as 1 in 6 people experiencing signs of anxiety and depression each week in the workplace.

As the world is going through the biggest emotional period of many of our lifetimes, we’re encouraging people to stop and think about mental health.

In the workplace, it can be difficult to identify employees that may be experiencing poor mental health, as, unfortunately, many sufferers hide their symptoms due to the stigma surrounding poor mental health at work. Identifying the signs becomes even more difficult for those who work off-site or remotely and men working in such environments are often perceived to be ‘thick skinned’ and lacking emotion, which is terribly misconstrued.

One of the most obvious signs an employee has a mental health problem is recurring absences from work. This is especially evident if consistent patterns of absences are beginning to develop with that individual. However, despite absenteeism, it’s very rare for an employee to call in sick and openly cite depression or anxiety as the reason for it.

In addition, just because an employee has turned up to work doesn’t mean that they aren’t ill and are simply working hard to cover up their private issues. Trying to continue as normal will often exacerbate their problems as low productivity may be viewed as a lack of ability by colleagues unaware of the employee’s mental health state being the underlying issue, thereby adding to their workload pressures. The knock-on effect of this could see the employee begin to isolate themselves or become short-tempered, so any change in behaviour is another flag for concern.

If you notice a colleague who is showing any of these signs, the next step is to help by offering the required and necessary support needed to effectively and sensitively manage the issue. Approach the company’s HR department or consultancy who will help work out the best way to help the staff member move forward.

Even with these measures in place, however, many of those suffering will hide the symptoms and avoid seeking help directly, so having initiatives in hand to encourage employees to seek help is paramount.

At Plastic Surgeon, employee-focused initiatives are at the heart of our company culture to ensure all staff are aware of the various methods of help available to them, both during and outside working hours.

Such initiatives include our Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP), a free 24/7 phone service which enables our employees to share any concerns over the state of their mental health. Staff can access support and advice, including short wellbeing webinars on topics such as resilience.

The service is confidential and, if regular calls are made, patterns can be identified to pinpoint recurring issues which, in turn, leads to appropriate support being offered to the employee moving forward.

The NHS waiting list for mental health counselling is 26 weeks, but with our EAP an employee can talk to someone within a day or two. A service like this can, quite literally, save lives, as those in the most vulnerable state can receive help almost immediately after seeking it.

Other initiatives we have successfully implemented are an in-house Mental Health First Aid Champion Scheme, where nominated staff are championed as the first point of call for our nationwide team of fine finishers. In addition, regular events are held, such as fundraising, tea and talk sessions and monthly company newsletters, both in physical form and via social media, also greatly increase the chances of someone suffering with poor mental health to come forward.

Our employees also take part in events such as skydives, long distance walks and team building days and we encourage everyone to get involved, resulting in a team ethos where our employees are working together to support each other.

Overall, by being more aware of mental health in general, we will be able to efficiently spot the signs of poor mental health in the workplace, thereby avoiding the problem escalating, and effectively manage those who are suffering and in need of support.

If you would like to find out more about the services offered by Plastic Surgeon, visit us online at

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