8 January 2018 | Ann Clarke
Ann Clarke is joint managing director at interiors company Claremont, discusses how café counselling can help your workforce.
Counselling cafés are springing up across the country to encourage people to talk about their anxieties. Some concentrate on bereavement or tackling loneliness, others are intended to give people a relaxed environment in which to seek guidance from others and to share how they feel.
Most are in community buildings and church halls, but following the release of government figures that show employers lose up to £42
billion a year due to mental health and the economy loses a staggering £99 billion, counselling cafés could be the answer to managing mental health at work too.
These issues are most likely to manifest as anxiety or depression and can be the result of workload, bullying or lack of training. It can also be the result of things happening at home - family breakdown, bereavement or financial worries. Employee-minded companies now accept that they have a duty of care to employees.
Successful well-being relies on employees knowing they can ask for help. It must also be supported by instilling preventative behaviours. This might be ensuring that line managers know how to spot the signs of stress, that there are frequent appraisals and discussions about well-being and having a culture of peer-to-peer support in all departments.
As most workplaces include breakout spaces and staff cafés, part of the infrastructure is already in place. The attendance of a team of counsellors for a few sessions a week could give employees the chance to share their worries privately.
In its review of mental health at work, the government published six core mental health standards that all employers should strive to meet. One is to encourage open conversations, which a counselling café certainly meets. Other guidance includes creating a mental health plan at work, ensuring employees have a healthy work-life balance and monitoring employee mental health.
Ann Clarke is joint managing director at interiors company Claremont