Recently, Dr Alex George (of Love Island fame) was named Ambassador for Mental Health by the Prime Minister. Although his campaign was primarily focused on mental health support for children in schools, it got us thinking about how we can do better in workplaces at supporting our employees, and our own, mental health. Some of the elements felt very much same – education and support.
Mental Health charity Mind state that 1 in 4 people will experience mental health problems of some kind each year in England. That’s a huge proportion of your workforce, but in our experience very few of these come to light at work – not because these illnesses are not impacting people at work, but because of a fear of discrimination, stigma, feelings of shame and perhaps some employers lack of empathy for mor experience in managing mental health (compared to physical).
We all know the pandemic and particularly periods of lockdown have had an impact on most people’s mental health – social media has given us terms like ‘Pandemic Fine’ to describe the feeling that whilst you’re grateful to be healthy, employed and financially stable during the pandemic, you’re also feeling emotional, exhausted, low mood and generally not your best.
So what can we as HR and/or leaders do?
2021 has got to be a year of progress (we say with all of our fingers and toes crossed), and in order to progress we need to change our behaviours, and that of our workforce. We believe that this starts with education. Education for our employees on the signs of a healthy and unhealthy mind, what to do about it, where to get help, and what support they can expect at work. Education for Managers and Leaders on how to spot worrying symptoms in their team and how to foster and open, honest, and supportive relationships with their team members.
We’ve seen and helped businesses implement the following:
- Employee Assistance Programs (which often include telephone or face to face counselling).
- Building relationships with mental health charities – fundraising etc.
- Providing in house confidential counselling sessions.
- Private medical insurance that covers mental health services (particularly outpatient).
- Training for Managers from experts.
- Offering a few paid ‘mental health days’ per year.
- Promoting a healthy work environment and work-life balance – which supports both physical and mental health.
- Encouraging an open an honest culture where employees and managers support each other.
- Having good change management practices – as this can often be a trigger for mental health concerns.
We know that prioritising mental health makes business sense. Supporting your employee’s mental health will have a direct impact on your bottom line through elements like increased productivity, morale and lower absence. But more importantly, it will have a direct impact on your day to day work and personal lives, resilience, and wellbeing. For us that is equally, if not more rewarding.
If you or someone you know is suffering with their mental health, we urge you to get help. Book an appointment with your GP or seek help from one of the many brilliant mental health charities out there:
If you’re struggling with the pandemic in particular – https://www.hachette.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/How-to-Stay-Calm-in-a-Global-Pandemic-Free-ebook.pdf
We can help you to build your strategy to support mental health in your workplace – for more information get in touch email@example.com