Improving mental health in the workplace

Mental health at work

With one in four of us now suffering from mental health issues, this topic is big news and it’s something that employers really need to be on top of.

Whether you know it or not, there’s a distinct possibility that there is at least one person in your office suffering with a mental health problem. This could be depression, anxiety, an eating disorder or even an addiction.

Although it’s not always easy to detect these things, just being aware that mental health issues are commonplace and letting employees know that help is there if they need it is often enough.

Why you should help employees with mental health problems

Contrary to popular belief, just because someone has a mental health issue, it doesn’t mean that they can’t perform just as well as anyone else (providing they get the proper support they need).

Suspecting that someone has a problem or even being well-aware that there is an issue but ignoring it can have a significant impact not just on that individual but also to your other employees. On the other hand, research has showed that if supported, the person will become more loyal, engaged and motivated which is obviously great news for your company.

Promoting good mental health at work

Ensure employees have a good work/life balance – if you notice that somebody is turning up to work early, leaving late and even putting in extra hours at the weekend, it’s a good idea to monitor this. If it’s a rare occasion because there’s a big project due or someone is simply catching up after a holiday, usually there is no harm done.

If this is regular behaviour however, it’s important to find out the cause. Perhaps they are struggling to cope with their workload but are too afraid to say or they could even be trying to distract themselves from other issues going on in their person life.

Allow flexible working – one of the reasons why people are feeling so much more stressed and anxious is because we need to juggle family responsibilities with full time work. Many parents are hugely overwhelmed with trying to get the kids to school on time, picking them up, looking after them in the afternoon and also coping with the tiredness that comes with running a busy household.

Allowing flexible working hours is a huge help because employees can work around other commitments without feeling incredibly stressed out about it.

Include employees in important decisions – a great way to help employees feel more valued and motivated is to involve them in important decision making and problem solving processes. Whether it’s team meetings, surveys, forums or workshops, people will really value being able to have a say in their working life.

Clearly define roles and expectations – nothing stresses employees out more than being left confused about what’s expected of them. It’s important to make it clear what tasks and duties they are required to do and they also need to know what they can expect from you. When companies fail to deliver what has been promised, it can result in reduced motivation, commitment and performance.

Provide social opportunities – one of the biggest causes of mental health issues is loneliness. Providing colleagues with opportunities to bond not only helps strengthen their social circle, it also gives them something to look forward and once they get close to people they will have someone to confide in during times of need.

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