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Improving Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

In recent years, there has been a worrying increase in mental health issues, which has led to important conversations about how it affects individuals and workplaces. It is widely accepted that mental well-being is not just a personal concern but also has a significant impact on workplace dynamics. As a result, it has become imperative to support mental health in the workplace, rather than just a nice-to-have. 

 

What is Mental Health? 

 

Defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health encompasses the state of well-being enabling individuals to cope with life stresses, realise their potential and contribute to their communities. It's a fundamental human right crucial for personal, social, and economic development. 


In this article, we will delve into the importance of mental health awareness and the steps that can be taken to improve it among employees. First, let us briefly discuss: 

 

Why don’t people talk about mental health? 

 

Despite the increasing awareness of mental health, prejudice against individuals with mental health issues continues, making it challenging for them to access the support they need.


Many people experiencing distress choose to hide their feelings due to concerns about how others will react. This reluctance to disclose stems from the stigma associated with mental illness, fuelled by misconceptions and negative stereotypes. This stigma fosters fear of judgement, discrimination, and social consequences further discouraging individuals from opening up about their struggles. Consequently, fear of discrimination and feelings of shame are significant barriers preventing individuals from discussing their mental health challenges with colleagues. 

  

How To Support Mental Health at Work 

 


Educating Leaders 


mental

The role of managers in promoting mental health awareness and providing support within the workplace is essential. Many individuals do not seek the help they need due to low levels of mental health literacy and a lack of understanding of available resources and treatments. Therefore, it is important to equip managers with the necessary tools and education to effectively address mental health issues among their teams. 


Mental health training for managers should focus on recognising warning signs, making informed decisions to intervene, taking appropriate action, and providing ongoing support to employees.  


Organisations can implement evidence-based practises, drawing from existing research and literature, to ensure the success of manager-focused mental health awareness training. By prioritising this aspect of leadership development, organisations can foster healthier work environments and better support the well-being of their employees. 

 

Enhancing Work Flexilibity 

 

Company-oriented flexibility refers to employers modifying, extending, or reducing working hours or other work arrangements to meet organisational objectives. This could be to better align with financial budgets, for example. On the other hand, employee-oriented flexible work allows workers to modify when, where, or how they work. This could include having control over their working times, location, or other work arrangements. 


According to research conducted by Prof. Giovanni Costa, Samantha Sartori, and Torbjorn Åkerstedt in 2006, employer-based flexibility has been linked to poor employee health and well-being. In contrast, employee-oriented flexibility has been associated with better employee health and wellbeing. 


Flexible work options can promote a better work-life balance, enabling employees to integrate work with family responsibilities, hobbies and self-care activities. This can help reduce burnout, improve mood and enhance overall mental well-being. Commuting to and from work can also be a significant source of stress for many individuals. Allowing remote work or flexible hours can eliminate or reduce commuting time, alleviating stressors associated with traffic, transportation delays or long commutes that can negatively impact mental health. 

  

Investing in Mental Health Speakers 

  

Seminar and webinars on mental health awareness have become increasingly popular as businesses begin to recognise the importance of supporting and improving the well-being of their employees.


Employees are often faced with several mental health challenges, especially after experiencing the traumatic effects of Covid-19, ongoing global uncertainty, and the ongoing cost of living crisis. In such a scenario, employees might not be aware of the best ways to overcome their mental health issues. Therefore, it becomes one of the priority of the employers to provide their employees with the necessary support and care. 


Mental health speakers mainly emphasise the importance of self-care, reminding employees that taking care of oneself is essential for maintaining mental well-being and productivity. They focus not just on physical health but delve deeply into the psychological aspects of well-being. Corporate wellness speakers assist in creating an environment where employees feel acknowledged, valued, and capable of handling the mental demands of their roles.


By investing in the support of their employees’ mental health, employers can ensure that their employees are happy, productive, and loyal, delivering value to the organisation. 

 

Consider Employee Feedback 

 

Listening to employee feedback is crucial for organisations to identify areas of concern in the workplace and tailor support programmes to meet the specific needs of their workforce. Encouraging open communication fosters trust and transparency, creating a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing their mental health concerns and seeking support. Regular feedback also allows organisations to monitor the progress and effectiveness of their mental health initiatives over time, demonstrating a commitment to employee well-being and enhancing morale, loyalty, and retention.  


Also, incorporating employee feedback into organisational strategies and initiatives helps create a supportive and mentally healthy work environment where employees can thrive. 

  

Lack of recognition and clarity are two common issues that affect employees' engagement levels and overall job satisfaction, which can, in turn, impact their mental health. Increasing the amount and frequency of feedback can help alleviate these issues. Despite the difficulty in sharing feedback, training employees to do so and introducing real-time feedback can help. Sharing more feedback should support an increase in honest conversations between colleagues, whether it's about project work, team dynamics, or specific deliverables. 

 

Initiate Wellness Programme 

 

wellness programme for employees

Implementing a wellness programme that focuses on mental health in the workplace can be highly beneficial. These initiatives typically involve dedicating a specific day each week to activities, workshops, or resources aimed at promoting mental well-being among employees. For instance, organisations may implement a

"Wellness Wednesday" programme where employees can participate in mindfulness sessions such as yoga or zumba, stress management workshops, or educational seminars about mental health topics. 

In addition to this, organisations can provide resources such as self-care tips, mental health resources, or access to counselling services.


By offering regular opportunities for employees to focus on their mental health, these initiatives can contribute to a supportive work environment where employees feel valued and supported in managing their well-being. It also reinforces the organisation's commitment to prioritising mental health and encourages open conversations about mental health in the workplace, ultimately fostering a healthier and more productive workforce. 

 

Random acts of kindness 

 

An article on Forbes.com highlights a direct correlation between kindness and overall employee happiness and job satisfaction, revealing four key findings: 


  • Being kind to your boss is predictive of happiness in the workplace. 

  • Kindness at work is a stronger predictor of happiness than income. 

  • Feeling valued ranks among the top contributors to workplace happiness. 

  • Engaging in purposeful work is directly linked to levels of happiness at work. 

Additional studies have shown that small gestures, such as buying a cup of coffee for a coworker, significantly boost morale and foster teamwork. Moreover, such acts of kindness are contagious, as recipients are more likely to pay it forward by performing kind actions for others. A recent study also suggests that engaging in loving-kindness meditation can improve memory recall, particularly beneficial for individuals with a history of depression. 

  

Prioritising mental health in the workplace isn't just a moral obligation; it's also a strategic investment


happy employees

Research studies have consistently shown that employees who are mentally healthy and well-supported tend to show higher levels of engagement, productivity, and loyalty towards their organisations. 


Creating safe and healthy working environments is not only a basic right but also plays a crucial role in reducing tension and conflicts in the workplace. It can also improve staff retention rates, work performance, and overall productivity levels. 

 

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