Today is World Mental Health Day

Posted 10/10/2017

Today is World Mental Health Day, an international event that aims to encourage discussion about mental health issues. This year, the focus is mental health in the workplace.

Mental health problems are all too common in the workplace and are the leading cause of sickness absence. But it can be difficult for people to talk about their mental health at work, and unfortunately, in some cases a person’s work environment might make things even harder. In 2016, research from Beat found that one in three eating disorder sufferers experience stigma or discrimination at work, and 40% of respondents described their employer’s impact on their recovery as “unhelpful”.

So today, we’re calling on workplaces to tackle stigma and misunderstanding, and offer support and understanding for those with eating disorders. There are lots of things employers can do to make things easier for those suffering from these illnesses.

An eating disorder is a disability under the Equality Act 2010, and therefore employees with eating disorders have the same rights as anyone else protected under the Act. That means that employers must make reasonable adjustments to enable the person to do their job effectively without doing harm to their wellbeing. If you have an eating disorder, you are within your rights to discuss with your employer things like:

  • Getting more time to take lunch, or ensuring you can take lunch at the times that are convenient to you.
  • Having a space where you can eat privately and discreetly.
  • Taking time off, working flexibly, or working from home so you can attend appointments.

Understanding and compassion can go a long way towards helping someone with an eating disorder. If you know someone you work with has an eating disorder, things that will make a real difference include:

  • Providing feedback on their work in a sensitive way.
  • Being aware that eating disorders can cause stress and tiredness, and people may find it harder to concentrate, which can affect their productivity or the speed at which they’re able to work. An eating disorder can also cause other health problems, which may continue to affect someone even once they’re in recovery.
  • Taking care to avoid discussing things like food, weight, and dieting.

We also encourage employers to consider having Mental Health First Aiders as part of their First Aid policy.

You can find out more about what to do if you’re worried about an employee here.

Work should not take a toll on people’s mental health. If you don’t feel you’re getting the support you need, or you’re concerned about someone you work with, Beat are here to help. Find out about the services we can offer here.