Mental Health Awareness Week 2018

Mental health awareness week (14th-20th May 2018) focuses on stress and how we cope with it.

This blog will look at helping employers and employees create a mentally healthy working environment where everyone feels valued and supported.

What is mental health?

Mental health includes a person’s emotional, physiological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also determines how we handle stress, related to others and make choices.

Why is recognising and addressing mental health so important?

Employees who feel good about themselves tend to work more productively, interact better with others and bring value to the workplace.

A survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation and Mental Health First Aid England found that a quarter of millennials said they put their health at risk to do their job, compared with 18% of baby boomers – those aged between 53 and 71.

A study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) highlights the impact mental health has on the workplace. The main findings of this study were:

  • 57% find it harder to juggle multiple tasks
  • 80% find it difficult to concentrate
  • 62% take longer to do tasks
  • 50% are potentially less patient with customers/clients

Here are a few simple steps you can take to ensure your workplace is mentally healthier:

(1)    Recognise that all employees have mental health

It is important that employers are aware that all employees have mental health, in the same way an individual has their physical health. Both can deteriorate from good to bad, depending on circumstances that may be going on in and out of the working environment.

(2)    Keep in contact with employees who are off with a mental health issue

You should find the right balance when keeping in touch with an employee who is off sick, employers should be aware that the longer an employee is off with a mental health issue, the less likely they are to return to work. This is because they will begin to lose confidence and feel kept in the dark from the business. Therefore, whilst an employee is off on long-term sick leave, employers and managers should:

  • Be clear the business will support the employee during this period and their job will still be there when they return
  • Keep employees in the loop about important developments at work
  • Have an open door policy so the employee can approach you at any time with concerns they may have

(3)    Culture

Employers should develop a mental health policy, by doing this employee’s will be reassured that the business cares for their wellbeing. Having these policies in place will create an overall awareness in the workplace and encourage individuals to talk about mental health.

(4)    Communication

Employers should use staff newsletters, posters and other internal communications to promote mental health awareness. As well as this, introducing discussions into staff meetings can be used as an opportunity to check in with how employees are feeling.

(5)    Ensure all managers are properly trained

By training up managers, employees will be reassured that their management team is educated in mental health matters, meaning they will feel more inclined to come forward and discuss any problems they may be having in and out of the working environment.

(6)    Zero tolerance to bullying policies

All employers should ensure there is a zero-tolerance approach taken to bullying in the workplace. It should be communicated in these policies that those found guilty of such conduct will be subject to disciplinary action.

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