Thinking differently about mental health in the workplace

Mental health problems affect about 25% of people directly, so it’s highly relevant to all businesses. As a Disability Confident Employer, almost 50% of the Pause Cat Cafe staff and volunteer team has a physical or mental health condition. This can provide extra challenges to an organisation, particularly in how our customers react, but it also seems to bring some benefits…individuals within our team display unique qualities that can bring added value to Pause.

Many of our team are highly compassionate, aware of others’ feelings, and show intense dedication.  Some others have heightened attention to detail and will focus intently on getting tasks done to the best of their abilities, sometimes obsessively.  Dan Willis, founder of Why Digital who instigated the #Day2Day campaign for Dorset Mind, has referred to some mental health issues as ‘superpowers’.  Personally, our owner Jaya recognises the disabling effects of mental ill health, but as businesses, are we overlooking some of the benefits that can come from employing people who think differently?

We would like to ask your views on the topic of mental health in the workplace.  What is your opinion? We are really interested to hear your experiences (good or bad) of mental health in the workplace, as employers, colleagues or employees…

  • Is it always a negative impact on a business to employ someone who suffers from mental health problems?
  • Should employers be legally required to make ‘reasonable adjustments’ to work as we are with physical health conditions?
  • How do we address customer’s concerns or reactions? What about other employees?
  • How do we protect our most vulnerable employees to help them feel safe at work?

Please share and comment to help keep the conversation going, to help change attitudes and help people feel more comfortable with mental health in the workplace #Day2Day.

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    Mental health is certainly not precise science, and many people fear what cannot be seen. Defendants in legal cases can manipulate and fake poor mental health but couldn’t with, say, bone health. People with little experience of emotional trauma often fear and stigmatise mental health problems. If we shift our focus from mental health problems to tangible, observable BRAIN health, we may shed the stigma. We may find it easier to diagnose and treat brain health biochemically and with brain-specific occupational health support if we identify the problems in terms of the organ itself. Our skin, for example, is also a complex organ which is we have difficulty understanding but we are comfortable treating it with vitamins and topical treatments. Would you be more willing to go to a dermatologist than a psychiatrist? What if they were called Brain Health Specialists? Would you feel more comfortable employing someone with a brain injury or a mental health problem?

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