If you’ve spent any time analysing Employer's Mental Health Initiatives in the last few months, you have no doubt realised what a minefield the concept can be.
Frameworks such as Health and Safety Executive management standards for work-related stress can promote and protect employee mental wellbeing in an organisation. Employees are more vulnerable to the negative impact of stress inside and outside of the workplace if they have not built strong positive relationships at work. Self-assessment tools provide questionnaires and tools to assess mental health concerns. These tools don’t provide a diagnosis but rather help explore if further assessment or resources would be beneficial to the employee. Aside from the medicine that is available to treat sufferers of mental health, other actions can help to offset the illness. As an employer, you cannot control whether your employees seek help. But, you can offer support services and provide the means that will help them. Organisations should create an awareness and understanding of mental wellbeing and reduce the potential for discrimination and stigma related to mental health problems. Many people with a mental illness have a legal right to ask an employer for changes to be made to their jobs and workplaces. These changes ensure that, as long as you have the rights skills for it, there are no barriers to you being able to apply for or carry out a job.
Successfully implementing a workplace mental health and wellbeing improvement strategy requires employers to take responsibility for creating a culture of awareness and support of employee mental health. Leaders are just as likely as anyone to go through tough times. When this happens, the old leadership style would have been to grin and bear it – to not show any ‘weakness’ to your team. However, by discussing their experiences openly with their team, leaders can help to create psychologically safe spaces in which everyone feels comfortable to open up themselves. Many people are reluctant to speak up about their mental health because it could harm their promotion and career opportunities. Employers offer work place wellness programs to improve the health and well-being of their employees, increase their productivity, reduce their risk of costly chronic diseases, and improve control of chronic conditions. In 2012, half of all employers with at least 50 employees offered programs, and nearly half of employers without a program said they intend to introduce one. An opinion on
is undoubtebly to be had in every workplace in the country.
Self-reported Mental Health
Our end goal is to build an inclusive workplace where everyone feels safe and valued. This means we have to rid ourselves of the stigma attached to mental health and draw attention to its impact on overall health. Many people experience stress in the workplace. Stress is not in itself a mental health difficulty but prolonged exposure to stressful situations can lead to physical and mental health problems, including burnout. Regular supervisions or one-to-one meetings are crucial to build trust and give employees a chance to raise issues at an early stage. Providing mentoring or on-the-job coaching also helps to develop this relationship. While companies taking employees’ mental health issues seriously is crucial, it’s not enough to simply release a mental health inclusion statement or mandate. There are real effective measures companies can put into place that show a more consistent and meaningful commitment. Organisations should ensure all staff have clearly defined job descriptions, objectives and responsibilities and provide them with good management support, appropriate training and adequate resources to do their job. Don't forget to send out proper internal communications around
in your organisation.
As we note in the previous chapter, one in four people in the UK will have a mental health problem at some point in their lives, the most common of which are anxiety and depression. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) advises that the key differences between common mental health problems and stress ‘are their cause and the way they are treated’.1 They often share symptoms, however, and work-related stress can aggravate and become entangled with an existing mental health problem. They can also exist independently – people can experience work-related stress and physical changes such as high blood pressure, without having anxiety and depression. They can also have anxiety and depression without stress. An important element of achieving a healthy workplace is the development of governmental legislation, strategies and polices as highlighted by the European Union Compass work in this area . A healthy workplace can be described as one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees. Most office workers sit for over eight hours a day, which is extremely dangerous for long-term health. Educate your employees about the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle and encourage them to take regular breaks. Perhaps you have a typically sociable employee who is withdrawing, or a colleague who usually eats substantial meals skipping lunch and working through. Noticeable changes in behaviour are a sign that something may not be right. The demands of an employee’s role, as well as how much control or say they have about the way they do their work, affects their mental health and performance. If an employee has work or task demands outside of their abilities or coping strategies, and has little say or control in how they do their work, it can lead to mental ill health. Even though it may not be easy to become an employee-centric company addressing
it is of utmost importance in this day and age.
A Leading Cause Of Lost Work Hours
As an employee you have the right to expect your employer and managers to create the conditions for mentally healthy workplaces. But you are also responsible for your own mental health by taking care of yourself and your colleagues. Unless you’ve been living on the set of Mad Men for the past decade, you know that workplace wellness has become a hot topic, and you’ve gained at least a cursory familiarity with some of the major factors that make a workplace a healthy place to be. To manage mental health at work effectively, you’ll need good people management skills, as well as empathy and common sense. You should try to ensure you are seen as approachable, and listen when staff ask for help. You should also take into account whether or not the workplace culture encourages disclosure or not. Think about the resilience, tenacity and mental toughness required to manage ongoing mental health issues, manage your finances, relationships, succeed at work, and to deal with the challenges we face every day. Living with a mental illness takes serious self-awareness, courage, and insight, not to mention the vulnerability and openness required to address and work through issues that arise from it. Good mental health should be a priority for any business, and implementing it needs to involve more than just the HR department. It’s vital to get buy-in from senior leadership and make sure conversations about mental health and wellbeing happen at board level. Communication that emphasizes that leadership cares about concepts such as
should be welcomed in the working environment.
Did you know that poor mental health and work-related stress now accounts for over half of absences in the workplace? Last year, in the UK alone, 15.4 million working days were lost due to conditions associated with poor mental health and wellness. More people are taking “sick days” to work on mental well-being (versus taking days off to address physical illnesses or injuries), resulting in costs of up to $1 trillion in lost productivity for the global economy. There is real misunderstanding with mental health. If you have someone with an addiction problem with drink for example, they can’t just put a drink down. It’s an illness. We don’t have the people in positions of power, from the government level and in certain businesses, who share the right understanding of mental health and mental illness. Employers should feel confident and supported to recruit and maintain people with mental health conditions in their employment. Individual strategies focus on promoting protective factors and reducing risk factors at the employee level. For example, employers can offer digital mental health programs (web-based or apps) that aim to equip employees with knowledge and skills to manage work-related stressors more effectively. Studies show that behaviors of leaders and supervisors influence the actions and job performance of employees and that unsupportive managers are associated with poorer employee health and higher turnover. More recent evidence builds on previous studies to show that having an unsupportive supervisor is also associated with poor mental health. Subjects such as
can be tackled by getting the appropriate support in place.
Civility And Respect
The Equality Act 2010 protects individuals with disabilities against discrimination or detriment as a result of their disability. Disability under the Act is a physical or mental impairment that ‘has a substantial and long-term adverse effect’ (12 months in practice) on the person’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities. Crucially, your employer must make reasonable adjustments to any elements of your job that place you at a substantial disadvantage compared to persons who are not disabled. Raising general awareness about mental health and its organizational impacts will allow an increase in support among employees as well as a decrease in the stigma around mental health. Presenting mental health as an acceptable and important topic of conversation will go a long way in reducing the reluctance employees have around talking about their struggles. A health-focused culture in an organisation improves employee wellbeing and leads to higher job satisfaction and retention. The use of safe, respectful, and inclusive language is key to a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. You can get more particulars appertaining to Employer's Mental Health Initiatives at this