SFE YP Blog | Mental Health in the Workplace

Neil Scott is an analysist at Morgan Stanley & SFE Young Professionals Deputy Chair for Glasgow

The results of our mental health survey will be made available soon as part of a report in collaboration with SAMH and SeeMe. As we continue to think about mental health, how it affects our members and what we can do about it, we thought it would be a good idea to reflect on the mental health campaign we did back in May and remind ourselves of what we learned. With that in mind, I've written a review of our fireside chat with Julie-Ann Murphy, Head of HR at SAMH. 


Throughout the relaxed and informal interview, Julie-Ann took questions from SFE YP Chair Milly Dent and the audience while also providing some fantastic insights into why addressing mental health in the work place should be a top priority. She highlighted that there are 1.6 million sick days a year in the UK due to mental health and, in a recent study, 41% of people interviewed felt like work worsens their situation when not feeling mentally well.

 It’s now 14 months since the first national lockdown and the majority of young professionals haven’t been in their workplace or seen colleagues in person for the entirety of that time. Julie-Ann shared some top tips on how organisations and ourselves can influence and change the culture of mental health in the workplace.

 Five top tips to encourage a focus on wellbeing and mental health

  1. Organisations should put employee wellbeing first – make important commitments and follow them through.
  2. Walk your talk – lead from the front and show humility.
  3. Weave wellbeing into your fabric - it’s not just an extra thing for people to ‘do’. Hire people who care about it.
  4. Listen to your people - get them involved in shaping your agenda.
  5. Lay out a plan and deliverables – make sure you commit to them.

 Social media’s impact on mental health

Another key discussion point was around being sensitive and aware of social media and its continuing influence in the mental health space, particularly in the current situation where many people are spending longer online and unable to pursue their own interests. Julie-Ann noted the incredible powerful and moving video released by Dove called The Reverse Selfie.

On the flip side there are social media pages out there that look to lift people when times are tough and these can be incredible powerful in lifting someone’s mood. So if you find the right pages for you they can lift your mental wellbeing when required. Here are a couple of Instagram accounts that are worth taking a look at:



 Supporting young people with mental health is important

 Julie-Anne shared some incredible personal stories on how mental health awareness can help shape how we approach certain situations. She also shared some startling statistics from recent surveys conducted into the current mental health situation for young people which we have shared below. The pandemic has shone a light on mental health and brought it to the forefront of people’s minds and agenda. However, this is just the start of the journey and we need to maintain our focus and approach beyond the pandemic and continue with the same level of emotional intelligence, empathy, support and understanding long into the future.

 Scottish Health Survey 2019

  • 21% of 16–24-year-olds reported two or more symptoms of anxiety.
  • 16% of 16–24-year-olds also reported to have ever self-harmed compared to 0% of those aged 75 and above. 
  • Young adults (one in six of 16–24-year-olds) are more likely than older adults (one in 20 over 65s) to have felt lonely "often" or "all of the time" in the previous two weeks. Young women are significantly more likely to report feeling this way than young men; 21% compared to 12%

Long-term Impacts of Covid-19 on Young People (11–26-year-olds) in Scotland 

  • 38% of respondents disagreed that they felt good about their mental health.
  • The majority of respondents noted that their mental health had experienced some form of decline during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • When asked if there were any topics they would like information about, the most common response was for information and support for mental health and wellbeing.