While seeking therapy for different reasons, Sarah, 29, found that she couldn’t stop talking about work and the pressure she felt to perform. "Before going to therapy, I had what therapists call ‘imposter syndrome’, where you feel like you’ve basically blagged your way into your job, or got lucky – a fluke," says Sarah, whose 16-week cycle of Cognitive Analytical Therapy turned into 20.
"I’ve done very well in my career, which I’m thankful for, but there is an argument for too much too young and I don’t think I was emotionally equipped for the responsibility of the titles I had. Of course, when you’re given big promotions in your early 20s, you just say yes and try to act the part but the more you progress, the harder it can be to keep up with your own success."
While Sarah’s course of therapy didn’t directly address her work issues, it did help her feel more confident in herself and her decisions. "It also helped with really simple, practical things like problem-solving, not taking on too much and allowing myself time to breathe (not literally) when I feel overwhelmed. Basically it taught me the importance of being kind to yourself, which is actually critical to being a good boss and a good employee."
With 77% of the UK workforce admitting that they have experienced some form of mental health issue
during their career, and the average cost of sickness absence in the UK totalling around 2.8% of working time, or 6.5 days lost per employee
, it pays to invest in the mental health of your staff. So it's no wonder that more companies are starting to take note and show an interest in the emotional health of their people.
Facebook’s Silicon Valley office boasts an in-house wellness centre providing a variety of treatments and, as a whole, the company offers its employees a range of holistic benefits, wherever they are in the world. But it's not just tech companies that have stepped up – the Royal Mail, Johnson & Johnson and Santander have also invested in the mental health of their employees. Since the Royal Mail started to focus on mental wellbeing through awareness-raising initiatives and encouraging openness around mental health (as well as offering health screenings and physiotherapy), it has seen productivity gains, reduced absence and increased engagement from staff. Santander’s 'Positive about Mental Health' programme recognises the business benefit of investing in the mental health of its employees; Johnson & Johnson gives staff access to on-site massage therapists as part of its stress management strategy; and Sweaty Betty offers staff yoga classes (naturally).
"All businesses should be offering services that focus on wellbeing to their employees to facilitate improved resilience to the pressure that they encounter in their working environment," says Dr Touroni. "Companies should have access to specialist mental health services for employees who develop symptoms of common emotional difficulties in the work environment."