World Mental Health Day Awareness in the Workplace

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Matthew Reymes-Cole

Matthew Reymes Cole

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08 Oct 2021

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Supporting your employees through mental health difficulties will benefit both your workforce and your business. Take this World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to improve the way you approach mental health in the workplace.

Talking about mental health often feels difficult. When an employee struggles, they might fear they’d be considered unfit for the job. They can feel embarrassed to talk about what they experience, and for good reason. According to research, nine out of ten people with mental health difficulties have faced stigma and discrimination in society.

World Mental Health Day recognition

By making the workplace supportive of staff mental health, you will increase productivity and retention.

Consider how you can offer mental health assistance to your employees. Create an environment that encourages them to open up and discuss difficulties. This will also help you avoid discrimination claims.  

Call one of our Health Assured experts to help with advice, assessment, short-term counselling, or referral services, on 01455 858 132.

When is World Mental Health Day?

World Mental Health Day 2021 is happening on Sunday, October 10th. Observed for the first time on October 10th, 1992, it aimed, through those early years, to raise awareness and educate the public. In recent years, when we have seen progress in equality and inclusion, taking direct action to improve people’s lives feels like the best way forward.

Why not start by mirroring the World Mental Health Day 2021 theme proposed by the World Health Organisation?

WHO’s 2021 slogan - “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality” – can inspire you to make the workplace more inclusive.

When employees are struggling with mental health at work

Most people might think serious mental health difficulties will never affect them, until they actually do. The less prepared we are to recognise and manage stress, anxiety or depression, the bigger the risk of experiencing a covert crisis.

Did you know that psychotic experiences can affect anyone? Psychologists and psychotherapists reported cases where individuals with no previous issue experienced either a singular occurrence, or short-term psychosis. Extreme levels of stress can cause such serious episodes that individuals required hospitalisation.

The above might sound rather extreme. It can, however, happen more than you would expect. When struggling with mental health, work related concerns can increase stress and further feed a person’s anxiety.  Recognising how lack of support will only make things worse in time is a first step towards a prevention-based approach.

Employee mental health support

Don’t wait until an employee fails to perform or even to show up. Encourage them to seek support when needed by making yourself, senior staff and managers available for them. Build trust so your employees feel they can approach you with confidence, and in confidence.  

Alternatively, if your staff are hesitant to approach you with mental health issues, you can utilise a confident, external employee assistance programme.

Find out more about this here.

How to contribute towards your staff’s mental health

From Dutch philosopher Desiderius Erasmus to the UK government, many agree that “prevention is better than cure”. When stress deeply affects a person’s wellbeing, including sleep patterns, eating habits, work-life balance and personal relationships, much more effort will be required to remedy the damage already caused.

Now, we cannot completely eliminate stressful situations or mental health difficulties from our lives. This Covid pandemic demonstrated that major changes in the economy affect how we work and how we feel about work. It also made employees reflect on what they really want from their job. Aspects such as a better work-life balance, financial stability and mental health support became prevalent.

With this in mind, let’s look at how you can better equip yourself and your staff for dealing with difficulties:

  • Offer “stress management in the workplace” training and courses.
  • Train your managers and team leaders to recognise signs of mental health struggles.
  • Designate mental health first aiders at work.
  • Encourage mental health focused meetings with your designated aiders.
  • Ensure employees benefit from one-to-one informal meetings with their managers.
  • Offer flexible working to employees who face difficult life situations (such as a separation or dealing with a child’s health problems).

Of course, none of these measures will completely eliminate the risk of staff developing mental health issues. However, you will equip your team with methods that will help them manage difficulties better and reduce the overall negative impact.  

Recent studies have highlighted that one-off stress management training sessions on their own tend to have little positive effect. They work much better when counselling and coaching has been offered in conjunction with training sessions.

Call Croner for mental health support services

Our Croner specialists will help you put systems in place to support your employees with their mental health. Call an expert today on 01455 858 132

About the Author

Matthew Reymes-Cole

Matt joined Croner in 2007 as an employment law consultant and has advised clients of all sizes on all aspects of employment law. He has worked within management positions since 2017 and currently overseas a team within the litigation department, whilst continuing to support a number of clients directly.

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