Mental health is an umbrella term that can be defined by a variety of medical terms and descriptions. It includes our emotions, psychological and social wellbeing, affecting how we think, feel and act. Not dissimilar to your physical health, your mental health can fluctuate from good to poor. Physically you might show your pain through a bruise, mental health is more difficult to express and to understand.
Despite mental illness being very common, there is still a stigma through a lack of understanding and education. If you sustained a physical injury, you would more than likely tell a colleague, but when it comes to a change in mental health, people often refrain from sharing because they fear being treated differently or judged.
This is why it is so important, in this modern age, to create a work environment that promotes positive mental health to help prevent health problems or illnesses, or to help those who are affected.
As a business there are many ways to support employees’ mental health at work:
Providing training for your employees is essential to ensure they have the competence and confidence when offering support. Being equipped with the right tools allows someone to spot signs and offer the right support. Intervention at an early stage is important to allow adjustments to be made in the workplace to enable employees to continue their work.
Awareness is highly important as it can prevent derogatory and discriminatory language being used in the workplace that may cause people with mental health problems to feel isolated and vulnerable. Increasing understanding reduces the stigma in the workplace allowing employees to feel understood and supported.
3. Offer flexibility
Don’t make assumptions about what your employees need. Each individual will require different types of support at different times. Customising your approach by offering flexibility that is generous and realistic doesn’t necessarily mean lowering standards but allows employees to voice what they need to work more efficiently. Treating mental and physical health as equals is essential.
4. Regular wellbeing checks
Don’t underestimate the value of regular wellbeing checks as they can make a huge difference to people who may be struggling. Appointing Mental Health Champions – people who are specifically trained – can be beneficial to businesses rather than having one specific person who may not always be available or approachable.
5. Promote wellbeing
Employers know that businesses perform better when staff are healthy, feel valued and are motivated. Businesses need to raise awareness of mental health and this begins at the top, from employers promoting discussions to proactively challenge the stigma. Resources such as posters, newsletters and guides are good tools to have within the workplace as a reminder that no matter how you feel you are supported.
Creating a positive work environment allows employees to work productively and make good choices to fulfil their potential, whilst feeling encouraged and valued.