Mental Health Awareness Week: Let’s Talk… Mental Health In The Workplace

As it's Mental Health Awareness Week, we thought it would be a good idea to discuss the importance of creating a supportive environment for your employees.

If an employee has a mental health issue, it must be taken seriously. It is your duty as an employer to be able to talk to your employees to find out what support they might need at work and then be able to provide that support. You must send a clear message to staff that wellbeing matters.

Mental health is an overwhelming action that affects many of us and can be fuelled by varying factors. An issue can happen suddenly, because of a specific event in someone’s life, or it can build up gradually over time. The keys to good mental health management are building emotional strength, being in control of your situation, having a good social network, and adopting a positive outlook.

Common mental health issues include:

  • stress
  • depression
  • anxiety

Create a supportive environment

With long working days, tight deadline and stresses of family life such as looking after children or family members, it is important we can offer the support that our employees need. Treating mental is as equally important as treating physical health and the workplace is the best place to enforce mental health welling.

Here are some of the ways you can provide a supportive environment for your staff to ensure they are living their best life both at work and at home:

  • Make sure employees have regular one-to-ones with their managers, to talk about any problems they’re having.
  • Provide mental health awareness training and workshops to encourage a positive mental attitude within the working environment; focus on work and personal life.
  • Ensure you create a good work-life balance. Encourage your staff to work sensible hours, take full lunch breaks and rest and recuperate after busy periods.
  • Within the office appoint mental health ‘champions’ who staff can talk to in a safe and respectful environment when it is needed.
  • Invite a speaker to come into the office or speak at a work event about mental health, diversity, and disabilities to help raise the profile of these important issues.

Use your internal communication channels to raise awareness of mental health and to advertise all the options available within the workplace to help if employees are feeling low and vulnerable. Use Staff surveys and focus groups to review and monitor how well your mental health protocols are working and if your employees have any other ideas that would help them.

Talking

Maybe the most important one of all: Talking. If staff feel they can talk openly about mental health, problems are less likely to build up. This could lead to:

  • less time off for a mental health issue
  • improved morale in the workplace

Talking can be a way to cope with a problem someone has been carrying around for a while. Just being listened to can help people feel supported and less alone.

The samaritans support workplaces with a range of programmes including Wellbeing in the Workplace e-learning tools and in-house and open workplace training courses. Take a look at our blog “Stress In The Workplace: Promoting A Healthy Work Environment”, where we look at the ways in which you can prevent and ease the stresses that come with working life.

 

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Laura Case

12th May

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