Understanding Mental Health

Part of the stigma is a lack of understanding. There are many different types of mental illness, from anxiety to depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as other personality disorders. They’re all characterised by disturbances in natural thought processes, which leave the sufferer unable to cope with day-to-day life. In the most severe form, some people are unable to hold down a regular job.

Mental Health in the Workplace

If employees are suffering with mental health issues, this can really affect the workplace. Not only can the overall culture and atmosphere be affected, it can have a real knock-on effect on other employees due to absences and shifting the workload. People suffering with mental health illnesses can sometimes struggle to perform daily tasks, which can affect the economic cost of the company. Larger organisations often have care systems in place to help those struggling with mental health, which again has financial implications.

Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace

As an employer, it can often be difficult to spot when people are suffering from mental health issues. That’s why it’s important that your staff feel comfortable opening up about the subject, and your business promotes the awareness of mental health. Creating a workplace culture where your employees feel that they can be themselves is really important. If people feel safe they are more likely to open up to those around them, and even members of the HR team.

Make Your Business Proactive

There’s nothing wrong with being an advocate of mental health, in fact in this day and age it’s quite refreshing to see businesses working to improve awareness. By having a positive culture surrounding mental health, you’re likely to attract candidates who want to work in a supportive and fun environment. Clients will also have more respect for your business in terms of adapting to the needs of your employees and spreading a positive message.

No matter what size your business is, it’s important that employees feel comfortable about discussing mental health. Here are some things you can do to alleviate mental health in the workplace:

  1. Provide mental health training to management teams so they’re aware of some of the common signs to look out for. This can in turn help to improve the performance of employees.
  2. Take time to analyse absences of staff, and any patterns that emerge. Has someone who is usually a top performer been underachieving recently? Confidential surveys are also a good way to find out if your team are happy at work.
  3. Put together mental health policies, similar to accident prevention policies. Prevention is key here, allowing your staff to feel safe in their place of work.
  4. Conduct regular appraisals with your team on a one-to-one basis, giving staff the opportunity to raise any concerns they have.

Make Adjustments to Help those Struggling

When someone in your business is having difficulties with mental health, it’s important that you have strategies in place to help them carry on with their job, to the best of their ability. Here are some perks and benefits in the workplace that you could implement:

  • Introduce flexible working hours and allow employees to start later or finish earlier. This can make a massive difference by reducing the anxiety of driving through rush hour traffic or allowing the person to safely medicate themselves before work.
  • Allow the opportunity for remote working. By providing a laptop and remote access software, this allows the person to work at home on set days, giving them the time they need to spend on improving their mental health.
  • Prevent employee burnout. Try to share out the amount of work in a more balanced way. Often it’s high achievers who are more likely to struggle with mental health, so by spreading the workload more evenly your team are likely to be less stressed.
  • Closely linked with the point above, try to reduce the amount of extra work employees do outside of normal business hours. Networking, for example, can be a huge added stress to those who are already struggling, particularly for those struggling with eating disorders, as events involving food can be extremely stressful and triggering.
  • Offer ‘no questions asked’ mental health days to staff, within reason. By allocating each employee a couple of days a year where they can take time off, not due to physical illness, will really help to strengthen your team.

We hope this article has given you an insight into how you can improve mental health in the workplace, creating a stronger and more productive team. If you have any points to add, or would like help on how to introduce mental health training, please contact us today