HOW TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH AT WORK
Mental health is our emotional, psychological and social well being. It affects how we think, feel and act.
There are many issues that can affect a person’s mental health. A few examples are – stress in the workplace, anxiety, depression, drugs, sleep problems, suicidal feelings. These are only a few examples.
Mental health issues in the past have not often been discussed in general and even less so in the workplace. Mental health awareness is growing and now people more open to discuss their problems. Even so, mental health can be seen as a stigma which still stops people from openly discussing what is wrong and how they feel.
People in Northern Ireland experience 20-25% higher levels of mental health illness compared to the rest of the Uk. In 2017 there were 305 deaths in Northern Ireland by suicide. (www.assemblyresearchmatters.org).
How can an employer help with mental health?
This has to be a two way process. Employers need to promote and communicate mental health and make staff aware that there is always someone to speak to. A point of contact in the company needs to be appointed or someone external whom a member of staff can go to.
Management need to understand mental health, they need to know how to approach staff so they can help them find a solution for their problems. This does not mean having to sit and listen to everyone’s problems, it means knowing your staff and knowing when if someone is affected and pointing them in the right direction to seek assistance. Sometimes a word of encouragement can be a lift for someone suffering in silence.
Staff must open up and communicate if there is a problem; they also need reassurance that openly discussing their issues is good and will help them move forward.
Employers can help with mental health, there is no guarantee that they will sort any issues out but by showing that they care can improve someone’s mood. It will improve the morale of a workforce which in turn will improve work performance.
Always ensure confidentiality
Once a member of staff comes forward this must be treated with the utmost confidentiality. This is a massive step for the employee; they have taken the first step to seek assistance with their issues. An employer must support them and assist them when required.
If this trust is broken this could be extremely damaging for the employee and also damage the employer’s reputation.
Design a mentally healthy workspace
Having an environment where employees can feel energised and motivated would be a great thing in an ideal world but unfortunately at times this can be difficult.
Other ways to promote this would be to promote job rotation, ensure staff take their required breaks, remove any un-necessary noise where possible, ensure heating and lighting is correct to promote a comfortable work environment, promote healthy eating, speak to your employees you may notice if someone is not their usual self.
Promote a work/life balance
Encourage employees to take time off work, ensure they take their holidays.
If employees work overtime make sure this is within reason, if someone is working too many hours this can affect the mindset of an employee and if this carries on over a period of time it could affect their mental health.
Encourage employees to have outside interests; employees who take care of themselves usually perform better a t work.
Make Wellness a priority
Promoting healthy eating, promoting exercise – offer gym discounts, cycle to work schemes etc are ways of promoting this. A healthy mind can improve mental strength and mental health.
We hope you enjoyed reading this blog. Mental health is now more important than ever and employers need to assist their employees with mental health.
If you agree or disagree with any of the points discussed please let us know or if you want to add something which you feel is important please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or Contact Judith on 07809238786.