Mental health is something that affects us all. Our genetic makeup, life experiences and environment are all factors that influence how we think and respond to situations. Taking care of our mental health gives us the ability to deal with ups and downs and unpredictable situations that life throws at us.
Everyone will require an element of support with their mental health at some point in their lives. Your mental health can fluctuate depending on the circumstances you are faced with. So, it’s quite normal to feel positive and motivated one day, and then stressed and anxious the next. It’s also quite common that some individuals may require support and long-term treatment.
Over the past few years, society has challenged the stigma around mental health, and has influenced the role organisations play in supporting their employees. Organisations need to create cultures whereby employees feel that they are listened to and supported by their leaders and are encouraged to bring their whole self to work, good and bad.
With this in mind, we have put together a series of tips for businesses, to highlight what else they can be doing to create a supportive environment within the workplace to ensure employees are comfortable bringing their whole self to work.
It’s important for organisations to frequently check in with their team to see if they appear down or are perhaps struggling. This could be in a formal setting once a week to discuss their tasks and priorities, but also ad-hoc meetings on a more personal level to understand if they require any additional support.
Ensure your team are aware of any internal updates and give them the opportunity to ask any questions that they may have. In addition, make sure work hours and days are agreed in advanced and expectations are set early on regarding workload, deadlines and prioritising what must get done.
Finally, if you are seriously concerned about an employee’s mental health and wellbeing, don’t be afraid to reach out to your HR department who will be able to offer support and give them access to the resources they may need.
Invest in training
As it becomes more apparent that many employees are struggling with their mental health, it’s now more important than ever for organisations to train their staff on the importance of the topic, and even go one step further and implement “mental health first aiders” training within the workplace.
Whether the training is a lunchtime session in the office or external training led by a mental health expert, equipping employees with the knowledge they need will help reduce the stigma around mental health, and help develop the necessary skills they need to have conversations about mental health at work.
There are various routes organisations can take when it comes to promoting wellbeing within the workplace. These include:
- Giving employees as much flexibility as possible when it comes to their work schedules.
- Providing employees with access to resources that can help with their mental health (sleep apps, podcasts, counselling etc)
- Encouraging employees to incorporate exercise into their weekly routine to help with their mental health.
- Giving employees access to EAP as another tool HR/managers can signpost people to.
- Encouraging employees to take all of their annual leave and have a discussion around this in their one-to-one meetings.
- If employees need to take time off to focus on their mental health, some organisations may grant this in addition to annual leave. Otherwise, some may implement a formal “return to work” process.
- Encouraging employees to have a positive work/life balance.
Spot the warning signs
The warning signs of someone who may be struggling with their mental health differ from person to person. This can therefore make it difficult for you to spot employees that are struggling. Changes in behaviour, lack of concentration and a sudden dip in productivity could all be indicators that an employee is not okay.
If you invest in training and promote a positive workplace environment where employee’s feel able to discuss their mental health, then this will enable you to create an environment where there is equal importance placed of both physical and mental health. In turn, this will lead to a happier and more productive workplace for all.
At Hunter Merrifield, we are proud to work with organisations on their journey to become more confident about mental health and how they can positively affect this for their employee’s. We are on our own journey and will continue to share our tips and advice with you all along the way.