In recent years, we have seen an increase in awareness around mental health and mental wellbeing within the workplace. While the topic still isn’t widely and openly discussed, it is something that employees and employers are slowly becoming more open and honest about, which is a huge positive and a step in the right direction!
Organisations have a responsibility to their employees to ensure they fully support the wellbeing, health and safety of their team through a duty of care, this considers both their mental and physical health. Mental health issues have heightened throughout the pandemic so its important more than ever before that organisations put measures in place to address and manage these issues.
What can employers do to help support the mental health of their employees?
- The work environment you promote
- Talk openly
- External support or guidance
- Mental health first aid
- Flexibility and adapt
- Wellbeing initiatives
The work environment you promote
Think about the work environment you both promote and facilitate for your team; do you offer a supportive and open environment? Do you raise awareness of mental health in the workplace?
Employees need to feel confident that they could approach management should they have any mental health issues or concerns and be assured that they will not be judged nor would their position within the organisation be compromised.
By creating a supportive and open work environment it allows you to encourage an open-door policy for your employees and to encourage them to talk to someone they feel comfortable confiding in. Allowing open lines of communication and encouraging regular catch ups or 1-2-1s can help ‘open up’ the conversation about how employees are and to hopefully speak up about areas of concerns or support needed in relation to mental health.
External support or guidance
Having external and recognised guidance from mental health professionals can be hugely beneficial to organisations and boost credibility in terms of knowledge around mental health in the workplace. Mind is a fantastic source for information, support and free resources you can utilise in the workplace to recognise and highlight mental health issues.
Mental health first aid
It can be difficult to recognise the signs of mental health symptoms for most people, especially as a lot of individuals try to avoid displaying signs in the workplace. Therefore, it’s useful to train specific members of your team so they can be aware of the signs to look out for and the steps an organisation should then take to support individuals with potential mental health issues.
Flexibility and adapt
As an employer it is worthwhile demonstrating flexibility and making any potential adjustments to the work situation of individuals suffering with poor mental health. This can be related to the working hours of the individual, remote or office working, the role responsibilities or any additional work arrangements that could be adapted to suit the situation, the individual and to enhance and support their wellbeing.
Wellbeing initiatives or employee assistance programs are becoming increasingly common in larger organisations with these campaigns running for all employees as a preventative measure to help encourage healthy mental and physical wellbeing of employees. Some organisations appoint ‘mental health champions’ within the team who can organise wellness drives such as mindfulness activities, promotion of healthy living and habits alongside other activities that support wellbeing.
Mental health is an issue that is becoming increasingly talked about across the workplace and this is so important from an employer perspective. It’s vital in terms of the welfare and wellbeing of employees, but it also impacts with employee absence, engagement and productivity which are three important factors of business activity and success. By taking steps to support mental health in the workplace you will build employee confidence and break the taboo and stigma around the topic allowing individuals to seek support while promoting a healthy and balanced workplace environment!
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