5 minutes with Paul Farmer

Written by
Emily Sexton-Brown

10 Oct 2016

10 Oct 2016 • by Emily Sexton-Brown

Can working environments impact on mental health?

Spending so much time at work can take its toll on our emotional wellbeing, regardless of where we work or what we do. The right working environment can help people flourish.


How can workers manage their own mental health and wellbeing?

• Take a proper lunch break, get outside for some fresh air and do something that’s a total distraction from work.

• Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything right all the time.

• Take your holidays.

• Be assertive: say “no” if you can’t do what is being asked of you.

• Leave work at work. Look ahead to the time you have to yourself for the rest of the evening.

"Starting a conversation about mental health needn't be difficult."

Do managers need to be better equipped to handle sensitive issues?

Many managers fear saying the wrong thing, resulting in them saying nothing at all. Starting a conversation about mental health needn’t be difficult. Being a supportive manager involves asking people how they are, really listening to their responses and creating an environment that is genuinely conducive to having open, honest, transparent conversations.

What are the signs of anxiety or stress in individuals?

The causes of stress and anxiety vary and so do the symptoms. There aren’t always tell-tale signs. However, look out for someone who is usually sociable becoming quiet and withdrawn, or staff becoming irritable, teary or struggling with seemingly simple things such as punctuality and making decisions.

Do you think mental illness in the workplace will become less stigmatised?

Over the past five years, the issue of workplace mental health and the role of supportive employers has been rising up the agenda. There is increasing acknowledgement from employers that more needs to be done to help people to stay well at work.We hope to reach the point where employees no longer have to suffer in silence if they’re struggling with stress, anxiety or depression.