With 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health problems each year, that’s a quarter of your employees that could be struggling with their mental health, their ability to work effectively and feel well.
Self-care and wellbeing have become a hot topic of conversation since lockdown and the #bekind movement on social media. This in turn means that mental health in the workplace is taking centre stage as an important and far-reaching topic that all leadership teams need to embrace, consider and take positive steps to promote at work.
Whilst it’s a complex topic which touches upon many aspects of effective HR management, there are plenty of simple things that can be done to make a real difference to staff who need support and to ensure that staff wellbeing and good mental health within your team is a priority and not an afterthought.
From wellbeing programs, promoting a workplace culture that supports openness and positivity to conversations around mental health, changing leadership perceptions, updating policies and introducing staff training. These simple things give this important topic the platform it deserves and the tools that you need to manage absence and performance conversations relating to mental health issues effectively.
Proactive Steps Can Help
Employees suffering from mental health related illnesses such as anxiety, stress, eating disorders, phobias, bipolar, depression and many more, can find it hard to speak out to access help when they need it.
By promoting a culture of self-help services and the support available to them in and out of work, alongside an openness and willingness to talk about mental health at your workplace, you can make a real difference to your staff’s ability to get the help that they need, when they need it. This could in turn reduce the number of days they need to take off from work to manage their condition.
- Wellbeing programs: Consider introducing and maintaining a well-being program that encourages people to be active, eat well, engage with others and enjoy hobbies that stimulate their mind and body. All of these things are known to improve well-being and mental health and the simple act of sharing these types of successes with others can be a brilliant way to build positive feelings amongst staff and support networks within the workplace.
- Business practices: Try to make sure that your business practices are not detrimental to positive mental health. Review and share company visions with your team, provide learning opportunities that allow them to expand or improve their knowledge in areas related to their work or interests, provide flexible working options, and ensure that work is meaningful and that your employees have a sense of purpose in their roles.
By taking proactive steps like these, you can build a workplace that promotes positive mental health which in turn can lead to a more engaged and productive workforce.
Simple Initiatives To Boost Staff Wellbeing & Positive Mental Health Attitudes In Your Workplace
When planning programs, training and engagement to boost mental health in the workplace, make sure it includes things that people will want to engage in, as well as providing the support that is needed to effectively manage staff dealing with mental health illnesses. Well-being initiatives shouldn’t feel like a chore, they don’t have to be expensive, but they do need to be effective.
Try some of these and let us know how you get on:
- Wellbeing newsletters: a great way to share healthy recipes, helpful apps that help track wellbeing metrics, share book, podcast, film and tv recommendations, and talk about local walking routes and events that staff can get involved in.
- Wellbeing notice boards: share staff successes related to health, nutrition and learning as well as promote your mental health team and key contacts to access mental help support available in the community.
- Wellbeing and mental health lead: having a dedicated member of staff or small group of people who act as mental health leads can be a brilliant way to add a human touch to your efforts. By showing staff that there is always somebody available to talk to in confidence if they need it, they’re much more likely to reach out if they know where they can go to talk things through.
- Staff training: Offer staff training on how to manage mental health issues within the workplace and promote awareness of what mental health covers. Take a look at this useful list of mental health problems from the mind to show the breadth of the topic.
- Benefits & Perks: Consider the employee benefits and perks package that you can afford to offer. Duvet days are commonplace in modern companies. This is where employees have the chance to take a small number of duvet days when they need time to focus on their mental health in addition to the usual annual leave allowances. Teaming up with local activity centres, spas or stores to offer employee discounts is another perk that appeals to many.
- Practitioner visits: Consider setting up a monthly rotation of visits from certified practitioners that can boost positive mental health in the workplace. Acupressure, yoga and relaxation instructors, talking therapy counsellors, and positive mental health role model speakers can really reach staff in need of support.
- Employee engagement: Make a point of asking staff what kinds of mental health support they would like to see in the workplace. By incorporating their ideas, you can be sure that staff feel listened to, supported, and more likely to engage.
The benefit to the ideas above is that staff can opt-in or out on their terms. They ensure that you are fulfilling your duty of care to your employees without forcing people to be involved in initiatives that they don’t want to engage in.
As you can see, there are plenty of steps that you as employers can take to boost positive mental health attitudes, care and conversations in your workplace, but we understand you can’t do everything at once.
Simply start with a conversation about mental health and employee wellbeing with your team. From there you can take their feedback to choose the priorities that will make the biggest and most cost-effective difference to your team.
If you ever need support on how to manage difficult conversations about absence or performance issues resulting from mental health illnesses, our team can help. Talk to your Neathouse contact to ensure that you have the tools, knowledge and procedures that you need to protect you against the risk of unfair dismissal or discrimination claims when dealing with mental health in the workplace.