Education of your employees on the symptoms and risks associated with mental health conditions is one way to address their concerns, including by disseminating brochures or hosting seminars.
Stress and mental health concerns can have an immense effect on employees at your workplace, with detrimental results to both work culture and individual employees alike. By being proactive about these concerns, you can make a tremendous difference to how employees experience working environments.
1. Create a Safe Space
Mental health issues cost companies billions each year and interfere with employees’ ability to work. Unfortunately, people often fear discussing their mental illness in the workplace for fear of losing their job or damaging relationships; but ignoring problems won’t make them go away; rather they could become even more crippling and lead to substance abuse or decreased productivity in the office.
To create a safe space in the workplace, employees need to know it’s okay and supported to discuss mental health. This can be accomplished in various ways such as providing multiple outlets where employees can raise concerns with managers and coworkers or encouraging managers to be open about their struggles with mental illness and promoting mindfulness techniques in the office.
Establishing a safe space requires leadership from the top, as well as an environment that encourages people to be authentic and open about their challenges. Nancy Spangler, an expert mental health consultant, advises leaders to share their own experiences of mental illness with employees as part of presentations on mental wellness – this often results in more employees seeking treatment like psychotherapy or medication.
Work can play an essential role in maintaining mental health, helping reduce stress and providing a sense of purpose. Unfortunately, poor working conditions such as excessive workloads, job insecurity and discrimination and inequality can increase the risk of mental health issues such as burnout, productivity reduction and employee dissatisfaction in the workplace as well as negatively affecting employee satisfaction at home.
Businesses looking to foster a culture of health and safety need to implement policies that mitigate risks to employees’ wellbeing, including offering flexible working arrangements, setting up frameworks for reporting bullying or harassment and offering training on recognizing depression or anxiety symptoms, vacation leave and medical benefits as means for treatment access as well as social activities and support groups for employees with mental health concerns.
2. Create a Culture of Acceptance
Mental health stigma can be an immense barrier in the workplace. Employees experiencing such difficulties may feel embarrassed and fear that coworkers will view them as weak or incapable of performing their duties, making them reluctant to speak up about their issues for fear of appearing like failures – leading them down a path of isolation which may only make symptoms worse.
Companies can take several steps to address mental health in the workplace. First and foremost, they should foster an environment in which employees feel accepted when discussing mental health problems, with supportive personnel available when employees do so.
Make it clear that discussing an employee’s mental health problems at work does not carry any negative repercussions, encourage reporting any discrimination based on mental health status and include mental health initiatives as part of diversity and inclusion initiatives.
Similarly, if an employee wants to discuss depression or anxiety with their boss, they should be allowed to do so without judgment from their superior; listening without making snap judgments gives employees confidence to come forward and seek necessary help.
Employers should offer employees opportunities to participate in stress management programs and mental health initiatives designed to enhance quality of life, helping reduce levels of distress and return more efficiently to work.
Even in companies with strong mental health awareness cultures, some employees still may need treatment for mental health issues that need treating. Therefore, managers and employees need to know the telltale signs of mental illness so they can act on time in seeking assistance or taking care of themselves and taking responsibility for their wellbeing – changes in work habits, low productivity or motivation may all indicate something may be amiss and should be monitored closely by both.
3. Encourage Employees to Seek Help
If your employees are struggling with mental health, they need to know they can discuss it freely at work. You can do this by creating an open environment in the office and providing managers and leaders with tools needed to have conversations with their teams about mental wellbeing issues. By encouraging your team members to discuss their difficulties openly and getting them the help they require, your business will become more efficient overall.
No matter if they have a diagnosable mental illness or simply experience work-related stress, the more honest your team can be when discussing issues related to mental health and illness, the better it will be for all concerned. Keep in mind that mental illness and poor mental health do not always coincide; just because an employee experiences poor mental health does not mean they have been diagnosed; symptoms may come and go over time even with diagnosis.
Addressing these issues at the front lines is of utmost importance, particularly for managers and supervisors working directly with team members. Their role will be integral in implementing policies, procedures, and creating an atmosphere conducive to teamwork; additionally they may act as gatekeepers for mental health services that could make or break your program’s effectiveness.
Training managers on how to identify and respond to signs of depression, fatigue, workplace bullying or other issues that impact psychological well-being of their team should be combined with an awareness campaign designed to destigmatize this topic and ensure they’re ready for potentially difficult conversations.
As well as training employees, your organization should also make it easy for employees to seek assistance, whether through EAP access or reimbursement programs to cover costs associated with mental illnesses. You should also ensure that its benefits package covers mental illness at parity with physical illnesses.
Last but not least, it is vital that your team takes time off for their mental wellbeing. You can do this by offering flexible schedules or encouraging employees to use up any unused vacation days they may have available, or creating an open work environment. By taking breaks for themselves and decompressing, taking time off will allow your employees to relax and decompress – an integral component of mental wellbeing.
4. Encourage Employees to Take Time Off
Mental health can be challenging to address, with its associated stigma making seeking help difficult. But taking some time off work and life stress will always catch up to us; taking advantage of any time off and rest can help ensure a more relaxed return to work after taking time off for mental wellbeing.
When an employee comes to you seeking assistance, be ready to listen. Though discussing these matters can be uncomfortable or challenging in an office environment, providing empathy while assuring them of your respect for privacy and well-being is also key in providing assurances they’re cared for by an employer who understands they must put themselves first in order to provide care for others effectively.
Employees will be more likely to seek proactive support if they feel their employer supports them in this endeavor. You could do this by offering an employee assistance program which offers treatment and counseling at their fingertips or offering educational programs that teach employees about recognizing and managing workplace stressors.
As a manager, it’s especially essential that you demonstrate your care for their emotional and mental wellbeing. This may involve sharing that you have therapy appointments during the day, or making an effort to reduce social media use for personal wellbeing purposes. Furthermore, you can encourage staff members to take regular breaks from computers or take walks during lunch breaks.
This pandemic has served as a stark reminder that mental wellness should be taken seriously just like physical wellbeing, yet will do nothing to diminish stigma around mental illness. Therefore, an organizational culture which supports and embraces mental wellness while giving employees tools for success at work remains essential until such conversations take place.