Archive for the ‘work’ Category

By John Middleton, FPH President

better mental health infographic

Mental health in the workplace is the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day today. The workplace is a key setting for health as good work is a key determinant of health.

Job control, fair treatment, job security and reward for our efforts are what characterise good work. Those who lack autonomy to do their job, have insecure terms and conditions, are treated unfairly or receive no praise or recognition from their managers will feel their health suffer. This in turn will impact on productivity, staff retention and sickness absence.

Sadly, we too often see workplace mental health action focussed on individual behaviours rather than organisational actions that tackle these determinants of health at work. Workplace wellbeing has become extremely popular but yoga at lunchtimes may do little, if anything, to tackle the causes of stress.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance for workplace health recognises the organisational commitment needed, the role of good line management and the value of staff participation in decision-making. It also recommends the Health & Safety Executive’s excellent management standards for workplace stress. The public health workplace is not exempt. There are many stressors out of our control but there is also much that we can do. As well as implementing the NICE guidance or management standards we can also look out for one another. Relationships are key for good health and equally so at work.

Being aware of our own mental health and wellbeing is the start of taking any action. This helps us improve our communication with others and create meaningful solutions with others. The revised Faculty of Public Health (FPH) curricula 2015 included a new learning outcome that we could all do more to demonstrate and apply: an understanding of how mental health and wellbeing can be managed and promoted in staff and yourself in a range of situations.

Mental health remains a priority for FPH and for me personally. Last month I pledged FPH’s support by signing the Prevention Concordat for Better Mental Health that we have contributed to through our Public Mental Health Special Interest Group. We will continue to take action, to support our members in their practice and to advocate nationally for the public’s mental health.

As a standard-setter and educator, we will include positive mental health in our education and training programmes, and we will work to become a Mindful Employer.

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