Promoting positive mental health in the workplace
According to MHFA England, 1 in 6 workers experience depression, anxiety, or problems relating to stress at any one time. The Mental Health Foundation UK also found that in 2014, 12.7% of absence days in the UK attributed to mental health conditions.
The mental health charity Mind recently reported that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures have the potential to worsen these problems. Therefore, attention to mental health and wellbeing within the workplace is now more important than ever.
This article will be discussing four areas that your business can focus on improving to help promote positive mental health in the workplace.
1. Work Environment
Organisations should aim to create an environment in which people are able to talk openly about their mental health. This can be done by checking in with team members more often, having regular one-on-ones and conducting workload reviews to ensure that issues are dealt with and concerns can be raised. By talking about these issues and removing the stigma from mental illness, it helps your employees to feel more comfortable about discussing issues that they are having. It also allows you as an employer to be able to manage issues more effectively.
Additionally, gathering information about what employees would like to see in the workplace through meetings or anonymous surveys is another way to manage issues effectively. By listening to and involving employees in the decision-making process, they will feel like their voice is heard and that they are helping to make a difference in the business.
Recognising and rewarding the contribution and hard work of your employees is also a great way of improving mental health as employees will feel appreciated.
2. Education and Training
While 69% of UK line managers say that supporting employee wellbeing is a core skill, only 13% have received mental health training. Therefore, it is evident that more education and training on how to assist an employee with their mental health issues is required in the workplace.
Providing more mental health training courses for your managers can allow them to better recognise, support and manage an employee’s mental health problems if they arise. Alongside training, a Wellness Action Plan could also be a useful resource. By getting all employees to complete one of these plans (whether or not they suffer from mental health problems), it can provide more insight on how your employees are feeling, which can allow you to find out the best ways to support them.
These strategies can also financially benefit the business as studies have shown that improving upon mental health services in the workplace could save UK businesses up to £8 billion per year.
According to health and safety legislation, mental health and wellbeing is just as important as physical wellbeing.
Therefore, doing a risk assessment to ensure your employees will not get physically hurt is just as important as doing a risk assessment to address any possible issues that could negatively impact their mental health.
In addition to this, providing perks such as free or discounted gym memberships, outdoor team building events or meditation and yoga classes can help to improve the wellbeing of your staff. It can help to motivate employees and can also make them feel more valued by the organisation.
4. Rest breaks and time off
It’s important to encourage a work/life balance, and to make sure that staff are taking most, if not all, of their annual leave. This may seem simple, but often employees feel like they could be inconveniencing management by taking their holidays. However, if employees don’t take time off, it can leave them feeling burnt out and fatigued.
Similarly, it is important to ensure that employees are also taking regular rest breaks throughout the day in addition to their lunch break. This can also reduce stress levels.
Many organisations have adopted mental health days that employees can take off if they are struggling with their mental health. This year as many organisations are working from home, people have seen benefits in their mental health as they have more free time that was previously spent commuting to and from work. Giving staff more flexible working hours or the option to work from home could benefit people’s mental health as it takes some of the pressure off and makes different working styles more accepted.
Overall, there are many ways in which you can promote positive mental health in the workplace. As well as educating yourself and others on how to improve mental health in the workplace, there are also simple changes you can make to make employees feel more valued.
Need help with your business’ corporate wellbeing and mental health services? Breathe Therapies can help!
For more information on our Corporate Mental Health and Wellbeing programmes, email us at CorporateWellbeing@breathetherapies.co.uk or visit our website here.
We also have a corporate wellbeing toolkit which suggests simple but proactive methods for creating a positive working environment. To download the toolkit, please click here.