7 Things You Can Do to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace
As with physical health, mental health is something we all cultivate and have to maintain. Each of us can have good or bad mental health in varying degrees throughout our lives. Even day-to-day, mental health can fluctuate and change. Statistically, in any given year, 1 in 4 of us will experience a mental health problem. The stigma that has plagued conversations around mental health is gradually lifting as society begins to acknowledge that we all struggle sometimes.
Workplaces are becoming more aware of how productivity can be positively affected by promoting good mental health practices. Most people spend a significant portion of their adult life at work and therefore, unsurprisingly, these environments have a large impact on our mental wellbeing. It has been shown that productivity increases by as much as 12% when workplaces show awareness and engagement with mental health. Furthermore, according to Mind charity, 60% of employees say they would feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organization as a good place to work if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing. Therefore, it is clear that ignoring changing attitudes towards wellbeing and mental health is harmful to a business.
Below, we outline 7 things employers can do to promote good mental health in workplaces, in turn, improving job satisfaction, productivity, and more.
Talk About Mental Health
Break the stigma! This is the only way to combat the view that mental health is a taboo subject. Starting a candid conversation will open people up to the idea of talking freely about mental health. You needn’t necessarily divulge any issues with your own mental health, but offering a thought on an article you read, a television show you watched, or indeed a personal experience, will begin to remove the shame from the subject.
Promote an Active Lifestyle
It has been proven time and again that exercise improves mental wellbeing. Something as simple as promoting a lunchtime walking club would improve not only the health and activity levels of employees, but also help to build positive working relationships between teams. Flexible working hours can also be offered to promote making time to exercise on a regular basis.
Make Relevant Resources Available
There are a multitude of resources available to help those struggling with their mental health, but also for those supporting others with mental health issues. Make it easy for these resources to be accessed and ensure that they can be accessed without the knowledge of others. Provide content in video, audio, and written forms and from a variety of organizations. Mind charity has a plethora of resources on their website for everyone from business owners and line managers to support staff.
Pay Attention to Behaviour
Poor and declining mental health manifest in many forms; from irritability to low attendance. Be ready and willing to ask colleagues if they are doing okay. They may say that they are doing fine, in which case, just let them know that you are there if they need help or just a chat. If you notice that a colleague is acting out of character, remind them that there is support available and resources available to help.
Promote Feedback and Open Dialogue
Providing the opportunity to have input in the wider company is proven to increase employee motivation, as it helps them to understand the bigger picture and how they are helpful to the business. There are a number of ways to achieve employee engagement: staff surveys, focus groups, involving staff in organizational changes, diversity networks, and making use of internal communication channels.
Work/life balance is key to productivity and wellbeing. Constant pressure at work leads to stress and burnout, which has a significant effect on performance, attendance, and morale. It has been proven that things like flexible working increase work commitment and reduce sick leave. Working sensible hours, switching off after working hours, and taking regular breaks are just a few ways to avoid work stress and poor work/life balance.
Breaking the stigma of mental health is an ongoing process and even in workplaces where wellbeing is openly discussed, some individuals may still prefer anonymity and confidentiality. Particularly in cases where individuals have struggled or are struggling with addiction or trauma, it is vital to stress that privacy is of the utmost importance. Stressing that access to mental health resources is not tracked or monitored can be very reassuring.
Addressing mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is simple and can be very inexpensive. Companies are only as strong as their employees and so investing in employee mental health can only improve performance and therefore profits. Demonstrating to employees that there is an organizational mental health strategy in place to support them is fundamental to any company’s success. All members of staff need to feel accounted for and represented. Two-way communication and regular ‘taking stock’ of wellbeing can prevent mental health crises by addressing issues before they spiral.
Mandating mental health and stress management training for line managers and other team leaders is also essential to maintaining wellbeing. This will help individuals to spot the signs of stress and declining mental health, as well as increase their awareness of workplace triggers, such as unmanageable workloads, lack of breaks, and poor internal communication. Working preventatively in this way, rather than waiting until breaking point, allows for early intervention, ultimately leading to less sickness absence and a faster return to productivity and satisfaction at work.
To learn more about mental health in the workplace, visit the Mind charity website.