Making The Workplace Healthy
On October 10th the World Federation of Mental Health will host World Mental Health Day. Their aim is to promote awareness of what we can do to help those with mental health problems live with dignity.
With one in four adults having some kind of mental health issue, support in the workplace for those affected is vital, yet it is a sad fact that there is still a stigma and often unhelpful attitude towards the subject of mental health that makes many people reluctant to ask for help and support.
Looking after our employee’s well-being, so that they are healthy, feel motivated and focused helps them to recover more quickly from any mental health problems they may experience and get back to their peak performance. It is also about doing everything you can to prevent the loss of a valuable member of the organisation and enabling employees, customers and others associated with the organisation to understand what is important to your business.
Mental Health Charity, MIND, have produced a booklet, How to Support Staff who are Experiencing a Mental Health Problem, a really useful resource for employers that covers subjects such as creating a culture that supports staff to be open about their mental health, supporting an employee with a mental health problem and managing their sickness absence and return to work.
It also has a particularly useful section on having a conversation with someone about their mental health which many employers may find a challenge. The first point here is about not making assumptions whilst also being on the lookout for things such as changes in behaviour or mood, changes in work output and motivation or being less focused, seeming tired and anxious or changing eating, smoking or drinking habits.
The more conducive the culture of your organisation to enabling people to talk about mental health issues, the better, and when there is the need to have a conversation with an employee, the kind of things that will help are:
- Choosing the right place that is private and comfortable, maybe neutral and away from work.
- Don’t make assumptions, instead ask open non-judgemental questions so that the individual can explain in their own words what they are experiencing, the impact it is having on them and what would help them to recover.
- Listen to what they are saying and look to support them in the way that suits them best. Let them be involved in deciding what adjustments will help, based on their own needs.
- Don’t shy away from addressing concerns about things like absence levels and impact on performance.
- Keep it confidential and involve them in agreeing who needs to know what about their situation.
- Develop an action plan with them that clarifies the support they need and who to contact if they experience a crisis. Agree when this will be reviewed to make sure it is appropriate and meeting their needs.
- Encourage them to ask for advice and support from external agencies such as their GP or places like The Talking Shop.
- Ask for advice yourself to help you support the employee. Organisations such as MIND or the NHS Health for Work Advice line will be able to provide this.
- Even if the individual is not ready to talk, it’s important to let them know they can approach you at any point in the future and ask for support.
How do you and your organisation deal with mental health in the workplace? Do you feel you have all areas covered or are there aspects that could be improved?
cHRysos HR can work with you to develop a Wellbeing Policy for your organisation, enabling you to support your employees in being healthy and motivated and to communicate the message that their wellbeing is important to you and the help that is available when needed. For help and assistance, Email Us or Tel. +44 (0)1302 802128.
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cHRysos HR Solutions is a Doncaster based HR training and consultancy company providing CIPD accredited qualifications, Apprenticeships, Training and HR Services to SMEs nationwide. For more information about how cHRysos HR can help you or your teams successfully achieve further qualifications, contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0)1302 802128.