11 Tips to Improve your Workplace Mental Health
With winter well and truly kicking in and many of us continuing to work from home, workplace mental health has never been more important.
Have you have ever asked yourself how many of your workers are chronically under stress, suffering from anxiety or battling depression? It is not always clear when someone is experiencing mental health problems and symptoms can be concealed or misunderstood.
Additionally, employees may be reluctant to discuss mental illness due to fear or embarrassment. Whilst mental health awareness is growing and more individuals (including celebrities) have begun to share their personal stories publicly, the stigma remains. Consequently, it is important that employers provide appropriate services and training to promote a culture that prioritises wellbeing, and empowers employees to seek advice and share their experiences in times of difficulty.
Why mental health matters in the workplace
Many companies fall short when it comes to employee wellness. Although it is encouraging that most corporate programmes put a great deal of focus on physical health through benefits such as health insurance, the body is only half of the equation. Our emotional wellbeing is just as important, particularly given the adverse effects that mental illness can have on our physical health, such as elevated blood pressure, hormonal imbalances and increased risk of cancer.
When an individual is struggling, their ability to undertake their role can also be impaired. Depression has been the world’s leading cause of disability and it is estimated that 172 million working days are lost every year as a result. Stress, anxiety and other mental health issues can have a profound impact upon employee motivation and efficiency.
How do you support your staff?
Luckily, there are a variety of ways that you can improve the emotional wellbeing of your staff. Here are a few examples:
1. Speak candidly about mental health. The first step to overcoming stigma is to avoid treating mental illness as a taboo subject. If it’s an essay you’ve read, a show you’ve watched, or a personal encounter you’ve had, talking about it honestly and without embarrassment lets others know they’re not alone.
2. Keep the talk going. Workplace culture needs to be nurtured; find several ways to apply the topic of mental health to your employees’ day so that it remains forefront.
Include all levels of staff. Your employees won’t believe that you genuinely care about their wellbeing unless all levels of management promote the importance of mental health.
Encourage employees to take mental health days off. Part of preventative health involves giving your mind and body a break every now and then, in order to recharge. Consider flexible working and utilising wellbeing days such as taking part in volunteering or charitable opportunities.
5. Pay attention and be ready to help. If you do notice an employee behaving differently, don’t hesitate to ask them if everything is alright. Even if they tell you they are fine, remind them that you are there to help and that they have access to assistive resources.
6. Make sure the tools and resources are relevant. Frequently audit your mental health resources to ensure they are accurate, up-to-date, and contain practical advice that your employees can use to get better.
7. Facilitate the access of these resources. Eliminate barriers to accessing resources by delivering content in a variety of formats (audio, video, published, etc.) and minimise the number of steps it takes to find it.
8. Prioritise confidentiality and anonymity. Even though mental health may be normalised in your workplace, some people may still feel uncomfortable raising an issue, particularly if they are dealing with addiction, trauma, or suicidal thoughts. Reassure your employees that their privacy is your main concern and that their use of mental health services is confidential.
9. Build a workspace that is mentally balanced. It is important for your employees to feel energised and uplifted by their work environment. Research has shown improved efficiency, dedication and overall wellbeing when people feel relaxed in workspaces with natural lighting, plants and other positive features.
10. Focus on the bright side. Mental illness is a serious problem, but it can also be handled in a way that makes people feel heard, respected and optimistic. Promote positivity and solution-focused objectives.
11. Team building. With many of us working from home for prolonged periods of time, the lack of human interaction can adversely affect mental health. Team building events such as zoom quizzes and virtual meetings are great ways to re-engage human interaction and promote a better working environment.
Employees continue to turn toward employers for increased support as more and more employees suffer from the daily stress of the workplace.
If you are suffering from a workplace mental health issue do voice your worries and ask for help, do not let it beat you, by spreading the awareness of these problems it will help drive the change going forward and help others in the same situation too.