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Promoting positive mental health in the workplace

Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It is something we all have. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. 

Promoting positive mental health in your workplace can be hugely beneficial as employees with good mental health are more likely to work productively, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to the workplace. 

Every year, working days are lost because of poor mental health and it costs employers dearly through the loss of production, recruitment or absence. Employers who take steps to better support the mental health of an employee can help to reduce the severity, duration and quantity of mental ill health in the workplace. So promoting positive mental health in the workplace is not only morally right, but also commercially sound. 

Buzzacott’s HR Consultants have pulled together the four key steps to help employers promote positive mental health in the workplace.

1. Is work the cause?

It is important to identify what might be the cause of mental ill health at work. Gathering information on staff turnover, sickness absence and performance can be a good starting point for this.

Involving employees by asking for their feedback, also provides insight into what your organisation is doing well and what can be improved. This might be done through team meetings, employee surveys or by simply talking to staff on a one-to-one basis to get their thoughts.

2. Develop and implement a mental health action plan

Employers should publicise their commitment to promoting positive mental health and ultimately reduce the stigma around it. Developing and implementing an action plan that includes a policy on mental health in the workplace that is properly communicated and supported by senior management is a great place to start - include identifying why you are committed to promoting positive mental health and what your objectives are.

3. Educate the workforce about mental health

According to the charity, Mind, 56% of employers want more information about improving staff well-being, but don’t have the right training. To combat this, all employees need to become more informed about mental health and what support is available if they or a member of their team experience mental ill health. 

Training managers how to spot and manage someone experiencing mental ill health can be invaluable in providing them with the confidence to approach matters that concern them and helping them to support their team.

Employees will also benefit from receiving training on mental health in areas such as:

  • What they can do to improve and maintain positive mental health
  • Spotting the signs that they or someone they know may be experiencing mental ill health
  • Who they can go to if they need advice or support.

Training should be conducted by a senior manager, HR professional or a trainer who is experienced in dealing with mental ill health. 

4. Champion mental health awareness, normalise the subject of mental health and encourage staff to talk

Not all mental health issues can be prevented, but creating an honest, open, and positive working environment might help certain conditions from developing or being exacerbated. 

Employers should ensure their senior managers champion mental health awareness and act as role models to encourage healthy behaviours. For example, always having lunch away from their desk or work area can encourage staff to do so as well. A change of scene or a change of pace is good for your mental health.

Employers should help to normalise the subject of mental health and encourage their employees to talk to their manager (and their colleagues) about their mental health. If employees feel able to approach their managers about problems at work, be it workload issues; lack of understanding of how to undertake certain tasks; or bullying and harassment, then it might prevent feelings of anxiety developing. 

For further guidance and advice tailored to your situation, please reach out to the Buzzacott HR Consultancy team.

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