• You’re reading this post as you want to be au fait with Employee Mental Health Initiatives.

    Many business leaders assume an employee's mental health is none of their business. But the way employees think, feel, and behave impacts everything from productivity and communication to their ability to maintain safety in the workplace. The barriers that prevent people with mental health conditions from finding and keeping paid work include overprotective professionals, families and carers who may not encourage or expect them to work. Although it may seem tempting to eat your lunch while also catching up on some emails, it is important to step away from your work and take some time for yourself mid day. Taking a lunch break every day can help improve your mood, wellbeing and even lead to higher engagement at work. The key to psychological safety between employees is to foster as much honesty and understanding as possible. All employers can and should provide employees with good working conditions and ensure they have a healthy work life balance and opportunities for development. To create a sense of community and belonging, managers need to build opportunities for engaging with each other in the workday. Authentic, transparent, two-way communication should be a pillar in your employee engagement strategy. This way, your employees feel they are valued contributors in the organization’s journey.

    Employee Mental Health Initiatives

    Talking about mental health can seem daunting, but we’ve all had conversations with people about bereavements, breakups and other life events – they don’t always start easily but they often mean a lot to a person having a tough time. It all starts with asking someone how they are doing in a warm and authentic way – giving them a chance to realise that you are being sincere and friendly. Employers can use direct interventions, which target mental health outcomes through psychological education, or indirect interventions, which target risk factors associated with depression and anxiety such as obesity or physical activity. The moral and business case for discussing mental health at work is clear. The consequences of poor mental health awareness at work means countless people are struggling. This could include long term mental health problems with your own employees. Even though it may not be easy to become an employee-centric company addressing employers duty of care mental health it is of utmost importance in this day and age.

    Tailored Strategies

    Often people do not recognise (or want to recognise or want anyone else to recognise) that they are struggling with their mental health and other people will notice it first. If you see that someone you know – a friend, colleague, family member or employee – is showing the signs of a mental health difficulty, please don’t ignore it. Normalizing topics around employee mental health in the workplace, and being able to identify and assess burnout risk, makes it easier for employees to get the organizational support they need before reaching a crisis point. Additionally, when employees feel like their whole selves are recognized in the workplace, they are more engaged and productive. All employers, regardless of workplace type, industry or size should adopt the mental health core standards. This will ensure ‘breadth’ of change across the UK workforce and lay the foundations for going further, and can be delivered proportionally depending on the size and type of business. Management behaviour is often highlighted as a major factor by those suffering from work-related stress. Employees whose line managers have learnt good people management skills are more likely to develop healthier ways of coping with the competing pressures on their time. The result is higher levels of wellbeing and resilience, which can help to prevent more serious mental health issues. While identifying work-related risks and taking preventative measures should help minimise stress for most staff, it may still affect some team members due to issues inside or outside of the workplace. Managers should be prepared to help and support a team member experiencing stress. Subjects such as workplace wellbeing ideas can be tackled by getting the appropriate support in place.

    Organisations should address the topic of mental health in team meetings and individual performance reviews. Regular one-to-one meetings are a chance to ask people how they’re doing, which helps to build trust and creates an opportunity to address any problems at an early stage. The terms used to diagnose conditions are sometimes words that are in everyday use, such as ‘depression’ or ‘anxiety’. Although this can make them seem easier to understand, their familiarity may lead to confusion. For example, employers should be mindful of the difference between clinically diagnosed depression and the use of ‘depressed’ to describe feeling a bit down. When having mental health conversations with team members at work, be ok if they don’t want to discuss their mental health with you as their manager. There is real misunderstanding with mental health. If you have someone with an addiction problem with drink for example, they can’t just put a drink down. It’s an illness. We don’t have the people in positions of power, from the government level and in certain businesses, who share the right understanding of mental health and mental illness. It is discriminatory to make assumptions about people’s capabilities, promotion potential and the amount of sick leave they are likely to take, on the basis of their health. Employers must treat people with mental ill health exactly the same as they would any other member of staff. Thinking about concepts such as how to manage an employee with anxiety is really helpful in a workplace environment.

    Good Mental Health And Wellness

    What are your thoughts on your job? You are not bound to suffering if you are worried and dissatisfied but feel trapped with no choices. Whether your job is moderately stressful or plagued with friction and challenges, there are techniques to boost your psychological well-being at work. In 2019, the International Labour Organisation declared that "stress, excessively long working hours and disease, contribute to the deaths of nearly 2.8 million workers every year" – road accidents kill fewer than half that number – "while an additional 374 million people get injured or fall ill because of their jobs". Employers have a responsibility to create and foster an environment that is healthy and safe – both physically and psychologically. Despite the costs associated with additional mental health and wellness benefits, businesses recognize the return on investment (ROI) that comes from having healthy employees. This includes more engaged, motivated, and supported employees. There is much evidence to show that having a healthy workforce leads to happier, more engaged and more loyal staff. Your organisations reputation will also get a boost when it begins to be recognised as a mentally healthy, supportive workforce. If employers and Government work together to reduce the number of people who leave work with mental health problems to even the same rate as those with a physical health condition, this will prevent around 100,000 with a long term mental health condition leaving employment each year. This is entirely measureable and achievable, and will be a key way of determining success. Communication that emphasizes that leadership cares about concepts such as workplace wellbeing support should be welcomed in the working environment.

    Don’t assume because someone has a mental health problem that they need to be off work and at home. Often this is the worst thing that could happen. One size doesn’t fit all, so be sure to talk through alternative options. There are a number of behaviours that can indicate that an employee could be suffering from anxiety. You should keep an eye out for these – identifying it early will allow you to have a conversation sooner and get cracking with an action plan. 40 per cent of employers reported an increase in staff sickness levels due to stress in the last 12 months. 44 per cent of employers saw an increase in reported mental health problems in the last 12 months. One-fifth of employees reported an increase in conflict at work between colleagues in 2012. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) in the workplace training is a fundamental investment into the health and wellbeing of your team and company. Commit to helping your managers help your people and let the experts educate your team on how to spot the signs in the workplace, as well as tools for support. In the near future, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if a company’s desirability correlates directly with its mental wellness program. People increasingly realize the value of having adequate support from their employer. And as time goes on, the companies who adopt these practices best and fastest, will be the ones who start pulling away from the rest of the pack. Discussing ideas such as managing employees with mental health issues is good for the staff and the organisation as a whole.

    Provide Support And Employee Care

    Businesses looking to better support their staff must embrace a more nuanced approach to mental health that covers all challenges. The types of support offered should be numerous, ranging from therapy and counselling, through to other services such as psychology, life coaching, careers guidance and meditation. Unfortunately, even the best organisations can fall victim to gossiping, which keeps employees from speaking up. Recent research from Heads Together found only 2% of employees would feel comfortable talking to their employer about their mental health. People experiencing mental health problems need to know it will remain private when they speak up. Mental wellness is worth the investment. For every $1 put into treatment for common mental disorders, there is an ROI of $4 in improved health and productivity (source: WHO). Check out extra info regarding Employee Mental Health Initiatives at this Health and Safety Executive page.

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