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How to look after your employees’ mental health

How to look after your employees’ mental health

With one in six individuals in the UK experiencing a common mental health problem in any given week, and over 15 million work days lost to work-related stress, anxiety or depression last year, it’s clear that workplaces need to do all they can to support the mental health of all their employees.

Experiencing mental illness can be extremely overwhelming and isolating for an individual. Fear about how their employer may react can compound their anxiety. Although it’s common, many people don’t want to disclose that they are struggling, concerned about the stigma they may face. However, if you treat an employee differently because of a mental health problem this could be discrimination and you may be breaking the law.

With International Stress Awareness Week this week , Monster has provided some tips on how organisations can effectively look after their employees’ mental health at work.

Start the dialogue

It’s vital that you create an open and supportive work environment. One where employees feel they can talk to managers about their mental health. There needs to be a strong internal dialogue around mental health being treated as seriously as physical health. This is necessary, so staff don’t feel the need to hide issues they may be struggling with, which can lead to more serious mental health implications further down the line.

During internal one-to-ones, managers should check how their line report is feeling and ask whether they are experiencing any stress at work. Not only is this a good opportunity to spot mental health problems when they arise, but it also forges a positive culture.

Flexible working

People with mental health problems, like those with physical disabilities, may require a more flexible approach to work. As you would for an employee with a physical disability: do your best to accommodate their needs. Home-working and flexible hours could make a huge difference to someone who is living with a mental health problem. A flexible approach also means employees are less likely to take days off sick with work-related stress. Supporting the employee benefits them, helping them consequently benefits your business.

Wellbeing at work

To encourage positive mental wellbeing at work  organise staff incentives and benefits that focus on reducing employee stress levels and better managing their anxiety. Weekly meditation sessions, discounted exercise classes or gym membership, and duvet days, can all help to improve wellbeing at work.

Another key factor is a good work life balance. Managers should ensure employees aren’t working excessively over their hours or picking up work after-hours or at the weekend. Down-time allows people to rest and recuperate, which is essential for feeling energetic and positive at work.

All employees ( and managers) have ‘Mental Health’ . It is something that affects all organisations.  Every business has a responsibility to support staff. Small changes such as flexible hours can make a huge difference to individuals experiencing problems and can significantly reduce stress-related absences.

For more information on creating a positive “mental health culture” check out the other links below

World Health Organisation

International Stress Management Organisation

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