It’s great to see so much talk about mental health. The amount of conversations and visibility have clearly grown over the last few years. Employee mental health was once a taboo subject. However, a spotlight has been shining and highlighting the detrimental effects mental ill-health can have on a person and the organisations they work in.
For most of us, our job is a huge part of our lives. It’s where we spend much of our time, and where we meet some of our closest friends. However, when someone’s mental health is suffering, the impacts can be numerous but the reasons may very well lay hidden.
The state of our mental health can have a huge impact on our work life, and vice versa.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to support your employees’ mental and physical health. When we address mental health in the workplace and increase psychological wellbeing, we improve resilience, self-esteem, self-efficacy, productivity, chronic and acute absence, and perhaps most importantly, communication.
There are so many great ideas out there to help with communication, resilience, activity and the work environment. Let’s look at these in a little more detail:
Create an environment of open communication
Employees can be scared to tell their boss or others in their organisation about any mental health issues. This can cause problems to spiral having an even more significant impact on them, their colleagues and the business.
According to the Mind charity, “less than 50% of people diagnosed with a mental health problem had told their manager”. The lack of openness is especially true in safety-critical roles such as healthcare, aviation, transportation and the forces where one word can be seen as limiting career opportunities and in extreme cases closing careers completely.
To combat this, the key is to create a supportive work culture where employees feel they can open up about their problems. In an Ipsos MORI survey polling 3,894 people internationally, half (50%) of respondents said a senior member of staff talking openly about their mental health would encourage them to feel more comfortable about their own mental health. Ensure that your employees are aware that they can come to you to discuss their health. Reassure staff members that they will get the support and help they need within the workplace.
Build resilience in your people
We cannot completely remove stress, workload pressure, deadlines and difficult relationships in the workplace. However, what we can do is create a ‘coping toolbox’ which the employee can draw on when they feel overwhelmed and anxious. Like a muscle, the more that an individual can draw on their own resilience then the stronger it will get.
Behaviour change workshops and lunchtime sessions create opportunities for employees to take responsibility for their physical and mental health. These also teach them a series of behaviour change skills which can help them to not only ‘manage’ in the workplace, but also thrive.
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