How can employers prioritise mental health in the workplace?

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Health Assured team

28 September 2021

World Mental Health Day is just around the corner. So now is the perfect time for employers to prioritise mental health in the workplace. Figures show that one in six British workers are affected by mental health problems like anxiety, depression and stress every year¹. That’s one in six of your staff members, who could be struggling with a mental health problem right now.

Mental and physical health are equally as important. They can both impact an employee’s ability to cope with the daily demands of life. So it’s crucial employers provide support to employees who are struggling.

Beyond minimal wellbeing support, lies a proactive approach to wellbeing. This approach empowers employees to excel in their work endeavours. Here are some ways you can begin to prioritise mental health in the workplace.

Create a wellbeing strategy

Eliminating mental health problems at work begins with a dedicated wellbeing strategy. The strategy should have employees at its heart. Consider ways that could improve the health and wellbeing of your employees. Here are some suggestions to include:

  • Implement an employee assistance plan.
  • Provide training to staff on resilience, emotional intelligence and coping mechanisms.
  • Improve learning and development opportunities.
  • Consider equality and diversity in the workplace.
  • Offer healthy incentives: free fruit, cycle to work scheme, step challenges etc.
  • Ensure the working environment supports mental and physical health.

Training for managers

Line managers are best placed to spot the signs of a mental health problem before the situation deteriorates. But often, they don't have adequate training to spot these signs. They may also not feel comfortable handling the difficult conversations that might follow. Training line managers on employee mental health will help them support employees address any mental health concerns.

Reduce workplace-stress

CIPD found that 91% of organisations suffer from stress-related absences². Stress at work can be a contributor to mental illness. Employers can reduce levels of stress-related absences by considering contributors to workplace stress. Find efficiencies to work processes, assess staffing levels and minimise risk factors. These actions can improve the mental health of your staff. 

Track employee wellbeing

Understanding employee wellbeing will help you improve mental health in the workplace. You can do this by sending out regular wellbeing surveys and reviewing the results in detail. Absence levels and staff turnover can also shed light on employee wellbeing. By tracking levels over time you can consider any changes that may have contributed to this shift.

Raise awareness at work

Mental health issues can be hard to spot on the surface. If employees are suffering, it could go unnoticed. These issues also often come with a stigma in the workplace. Employees might fear speaking up due to judgement or embarrassment. But this only makes the issue even more difficult. Employers can raise mental health awareness at work by:

  • Signposting to mental health support.
  • Sharing information about mental health.
  • Talking about it openly to the team.

References

¹ Mind, How to implement the Thriving at Work mental health standards in your workplace. Mind. Available at: https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/4659/how-to-implement-the-thriving-at-work-mental-health-standards-final-guide-online.pdf [Accessed August 20, 2021].

² CIPD. (2021) Health and wellbeing at work survey 2021. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

 

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