stress awareness month

Tackling the BIG issue of employee mental health and wellbeing head on

Since April is Stress Awareness Month, Senior Account Manager, Laura Berry has shared the tips she learned from BIG’s mental health training in Manchester.

According to the latest stats from the HSE, 526,000 workers in the UK were reported to be suffering from work-related stress, anxiety or depression last year.

If we listen to what mental health organisations across the country are telling us, this number barely scratches the surface when we take into consideration the cases that go unreported.

Stress is clearly taking its toll on the British workforce, affecting morale and productivity and it is often cited as one of the top reasons for long-term sick leave.

A recent survey by Perkbox found that long working hours is the most common cause of work-related stress, with work performance and customer/client satisfaction also listed as significant contributing factors.

Stress, therefore, is something that employers simply cannot ignore.

Mental health training at BIG

As part of BIG’s commitment to managing stress in the workplace, all 110 members of staff across its six UK offices underwent a series of mental health awareness training courses.

Here in Manchester, we heard from Manchester Mind, an independent local mental health charity which promotes good mental health to businesses and organisations in the city region.

In Manchester alone, 1 in 6 workers in the city are dealing with a mental health problem and the biggest barrier to dealing with this, is the stigma that mental health issues still carry.

As a busy agency where people often have to work long hours, deal with clients and handle challenging situations, BIG recognises the impact this can have on mental wellbeing. Through the mental health awareness training, BIG aims to create an environment in which work place stress is managed effectively and mental wellbeing becomes something people feel comfortable talking about.

The training from Manchester Mind, certainly opened my eyes to the importance of good mental health and recognising stress factors not just within ourselves, but also in our colleagues.

We learned that it’s okay to shout up to our colleagues and team leaders when we are feeling the pressure and that our concerns will be listened to no matter what.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to preventing work place stress, there are things we can do as individuals to help manage our stress and anxiety in today’s work place.

Tackle workplace stress

Here are some of our favourite stress-busting tips, for all of us who work in a fast-paced environment:

  1. Take a break – make sure you break for lunch every day and get away from your desk or computer.
  2. Focus on your breathing – deep breaths can have a calming effect and create a sense of wellbeing.
  3. Listen to music – studies have shown that music can have the power to aid relaxation in both our mind and body.
  4. Picture yourself in a relaxing place – we all have a happy place, take your mind back there for five minutes and remember how good it felt.
  5. Be active – take part in some form of exercise. The BIG North West team make time for a yoga class once a week and it makes a considerable difference to the start of our day.
  6. Get creative – find an activity which engages the creative side of your brain, for example, buy an adult colouring book and engage your inner child.
  7. Spend time in green spaces – go for a walk during your lunch break and get outside in green open spaces.

It’s clear that stress in the workplace won’t be an issue any of us can solve overnight and it’ll be a while before the stigma is gone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do things about it today.

By recognising the impact that work can have on employees it can be relatively easy to put things in place to manage stress.

And by doing so, a business is only ever going to realise positive benefits, such as a more open and collaborative culture, more productive people and a reduction in sickness absenteeism – all of which have commercial benefits for companies and their customers.