Today is International Women’s Day, and we join all those celebrating women’s achievements: in and out of the workplace. This year’s theme is #BreakTheBias, and we hope to contribute to the breaking down of barriers and bias when it comes to the mental health of your female employees.
While women are generally more likely to talk about their problems when compared to men, social and economic factors can put women at greater risk of mental health issues. In fact, one in five women in the UK have a common mental health issue, such as depression or anxiety.
There are also certain types of disorders that are unique to women. For example, some women may experience symptoms of mental disorders at times of hormone change, such as perinatal depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and perimenopause-related depression. When it comes to other mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, research has not found differences in the rates at which men and women experience these illnesses. But women may experience these illnesses differently – certain symptoms may be more common in women than in men, and the course of the illness can be affected by the sex of the individual.
There is plenty employers can do to support their female staff, such as developing a robust mental health strategy that can deal with the nuances and difficulties of mental health issues as they fall along gendered lines. An employer-funded benefit such as an EAP can really help to develop this. As an employer, it is worth asking is you are doing enough to support mental health in the workplace, whether in relation to your female employees or not. Everybody has the right to good wellbeing and a healthy mind, and a supportive and compassionate workplace is key to this. While a broader acceptance and awareness of mental health has grown over the past few years, there is still considerable work to be done. This is especially true for women’s mental health, where there is still a lack of awareness and understanding
As an employer, take the time to consider the mental health of your employees. If you have not already done so, it is up to you to take proactive and preventative measures to support mental health at work. The reward for getting this right is a happier, more productive workforce and a more successful organisation.