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Working from home has multiple benefits, as so many of us have come to realise this year. However, one major drawback is the lack of one-to-one connection with colleagues. A quick catch up at the water cooler, banter in the staff room at lunchtime, after-work drinks at a local bar – these are great opportunities to check in with team members to see how they are, how they’re feeling, and how they’re coping with things in work and in life in general. Because when it comes to mental health, it’s not always immediately apparent if someone is struggling. Indeed, this year we’re being reminded of this on Thursday 3rd December, which is International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the theme of which is ‘Not all disabilities are visible’.
The campaign aims to spread awareness and understanding of disabilities that are not immediately apparent – disabilities such as chronic pain, neurological disorders, learning differences, cognitive dysfunctions, and mental health problems. Did you know, for example, that according to the WHO World Report on Disability, an estimated 450 million people are living with a mental or neurological condition? Worryingly, around two-thirds of these people will not seek professional medical help, because of stigma, discrimination, and neglect.
The figures may sound overwhelming, however it’s important to remember there are things we can all do to help end the stigma and open up conversations about mental health, making it easier for those suffering to seek the help they need.
Employers can do their bit by creating a supportive environment for their team. They can do so by ensuring all employees have regular one-to-ones with their managers so they can discuss any problems they’re experiencing, and organising mental health awareness training workshops.
It’s also essential all team members are able to look out for potential warning signs amongst their colleagues.
Potential signs include:
Of course, it may be more difficult to spot these signs when you’re not sharing an office, and that is why it is so important to make an extra effort to check in with employees and colleagues. A simple text, email, call or video chat, opening up a conversation and providing that person with the space to speak freely and honestly could be just what they need.
For more information about International Day of Persons with Disabilities, head to www.idpwd.org. And if you’d like to find out how YourGP’s Occupational Healthcare professionals can help to ensure your workplace is an open, inclusive and support one, call 0131 225 5656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment. We can help you put a range of initiatives into place and even guide you through the process of making reasonable adjustments in the workplace, so that employees with a disability – be it a physical one or a mental health one – can lead an equally fulfilling work life.
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