Guest Blog – Neil Moon “Working Under Pressure”

I’ve been following Neil Moon on Twitter for some time now and recently watched a youtube video that really does show how workplace bullying can damage the individual and the family. I would like to thank Neil for sharing his experience and insight into bullying in the workplace and hope we can all learn from Neil’s experience – Gareth Presch


Recently, I had a meeting with the Head of European Health and Safety for a large global construction company. Like myself, this director is very keen to raise the profile of Mental Health Awareness in the construction sector.  We both feel it is very important that employees look after themselves in this area because it is as important as looking after any other part of their well-being.  One of the comments he made to me was that he approached someone on this topic and the shutters automatically went up and the response was “this will be the new bad back”.     Personally I find this comment very short-sighted and also signifies the typical male response of burying your head in the sand.  The problem is what people do not seem to grasp is this is already costing the U.K. economy 105 Billion pounds a year,  this equates to £1000.00 an employee.  According to the HSE, 39% of all work related illnesses that were reported were in the area of mental health.  So whether we want to acknowledge it or not this issue is already costing your business money and not going away.

Ten years ago I became ill from suffering the impacts of psychosocial risks in the workplace.  My illness and suffering could of been prevented by simply having an awareness program that was proactive rather than reactive.  The fact I suffered a nervous breakdown does not make me a weak person or someone who belongs locked up in Broadmoor.  To be totally honest what I suffered as a result of what I went through is actually quite common.  I did not go to work and ask for this anymore than I would like a bad back or a fall from height.  Throughout my career, I have had training on all different issues ranging form chemical and biological warfare to basic manual handling.  All of this training I have tried to implement to the best of my ability.  The only area I never received any training on was metal health awareness.   If I had I would of implemented it in the way I did all the rest of my training.  It is also ironic that the one area I did not receive any training was the one area that made me ill.

As an Industry we now have a growing problem on our hands,  Depression, Stress, and Anxiety related illnesses are growing rapidly,  The average time that employee takes off sick to recover from this type of illness is 25 days.  In some acute cases they actually never return to work.  This would be bad for businesses.  The Oxford School of Economics has placed a figure of £30,614 to replace an employee.  This is a far cry more than the £6000.00 that the CIPD have placed on the cost.  This figure includes the hidden costs to business such as the time it takes an employee to get to optimum efficiency, loss of business and loss of goodwill by other employees carrying the extra workload.  If I was an employer, I would seriously be considering strategies that would look at protecting this investment.  Good Mental Health Awareness training programs are certainly a proactive way to protect your business and staff.   According to a report I just read published by Johnson and Johnson for every dollar they spend on employee well being they are seeing a return of nearly four dollars.  Reports like this just show us that proactive programs make good business sense.

So as an industry, we need to look at all the facts. This issue is getting worse and not going away. It is already costing businesses money.  So are we going to wake up and tackle this issue or are we going to bury our heads in the sand? The choice is ours. The Irony of all this is, If we spent more time looking after and talking about mental health we would not need to bury our heads in the sand which would alleviate the chance of getting a bad back. WIN-WIN

Neil Moon @work_nm

*The opinions expressed are the bloggers own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Health Innovation Summit.

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