Mental health in the workplace: five tips for organisations

  Trumpet| CPD | Liz Skelton | 03 July 2017

Mental health awarenessIf you want to set up a programme to help promote mental health in your organisation, it is absolutely key to get engagement at all levels, from your senior managers to your employees. In the same way that an employee can be affected by a cold or flu, anyone can be affected by a mental health issue; therefore it should be high on any organisation’s health agenda.

Here are five practical ways that organisations can help improve mental health at work:

1. Lead the way

Managers can help employees to strike a healthy work/life balance by encouraging them to take their holiday entitlement, take breaks and work sensible hours. Flexible working arrangements can also be beneficial. And make sure that as a manager you use deeds, not just words - if employees see their managers failing to take holidays and working long hours they may do the same. This message should come from the top.

2. Be confident

It’s often a difficult thing to talk about, but by opening up and engaging with your teams regularly and communicating about mental health, you can start the dialogue. If you promote a culture of support where positive behaviours are rewarded and people are valued, this will encourage openness.

When you have openness, employees will be able to say that they need some help with the work they are doing and then you can support them.

3. Remember mental health is about the individual

Poor mental health can be the result of an accumulation of a range of different factors. By regularly touching base with individuals you can gain an understanding of what is happening for them both in and outside of work and give them an opportunity to come to you for help and advice. Simple questions like “how are things for you at the moment?” “How’s work going?” and “Do you want some help with that?” can make a huge difference to an individual.

And remember that everyone reacts in different ways; don’t make assumptions about what an individual needs, ask them what would be best for them.

4. Make sure you have the right toolsPromote a culture of support where positive behaviours are rewarded and people are valued

Equip your managers to support people through difficult times by giving them the tools to help. For example proactive policies, training in what to look for and how to manage cases, occupational health support and a good understanding of emotional intelligence.

Ensure managers and staff members have access to stress management and resilience training. Not only does this equip your teams but it also helps develop their skills and confidence and shows you value them.

5. Make sure senior managers are aware if there are issues

There can be a disconnect between what a senior manager believes is happening and what actually happens. Line managers are in a great position to promote awareness at top levels in the organisation and improve everyone’s understanding of how an organisation can improve.

Communicate clearly with teams and ensure that senior managers know if there are increasing demands on the team so that they understand what may need to stop, what needs to start and what needs to go on hold.

Thanks for reading Connect, and if you have any stories to tell or opinions to share, please email connect@iosh.com.

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