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Intro

How to Support Employee Mental Health

Why You Should Support Your Employees

Things to Be Aware Of

Conclusion

 

 

The workplace can be a stressful environment. Employees frequently feel pressure to perform well, meet deadlines, and deal with challenging co-workers or customers. This stress can affect mental health, leading to conditions like anxiety, depression, and burnout.
For various reasons, many employees struggled with mental health issues during the pandemic. Some were worried about contracting the virus, while others felt isolated from working remotely or lost loved ones to the pandemic. Employers should always make an effort to prioritise employee mental health.

 

 

How to Support Employee Mental Health

Employers have a responsibility to cultivate a healthy work environment for their employees. This includes supporting employees' mental health. According to Mental Health Foundation, almost 15% of people experience mental health problems in the workplace. There are various ways employers can support employee mental health in the workplace:

 

Encourage an open conversation about mental health

Encourage an open conversation about mental health
Employees should feel free to discuss their mental health with their employer without fear of judgement or discrimination. Employers can encourage this by creating an open and supportive environment around mental health. This could involve organising company-wide events or training sessions on mental health; setting up an employee assistance programme; or simply having regular check-ins with employees to see how they're doing.

Promote a culture of understanding and support, and ensure employees know they can come to you with any concerns.

 

open conversation

Open conversation about mental health can make employees more comfortable about opening up about their feelings.

 

Promote a healthy work-life balance

Encourage employees to take breaks, use their annual leave, and disconnect from work when they're not at the office. A healthy work-life balance is essential for good mental health. Some employees may feel they need to dedicate their whole lives to work and end up burning out. Promoting a healthy balance will make their work more valuable and work out better for everyone in the long run. People should be encouraged to enrich their personal life, which should enrich their working life too.

 

Offer flexible working arrangements

Flexible working arrangements can significantly affect employees with mental health challenges. If possible, offer flexible hours, telecommuting options, and other ways to make it easier for employees to manage their work and personal commitments. Some people may thrive best in an office full of people. For example, if they live at home alone, they may feel better about commuting to work and having a daily routine. On the other hand, others may feel more comfortable working from home. Offering flexibility gives employees the choice to work in the best way that suits them.

 

Provide support during times of stress

There will be times when employees are dealing with personal or professional stressors that affect their mental health. Employers should be prepared to provide support during these times. This could involve offering additional paid time off, arranging for counselling services, or simply being understanding and accommodating of an employee's needs.

 

offer support

Let employees know that you're there for them, be open with them and give them the time if they struggle.

 

Offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)

Employee Assistance Programmes can greatly assist mental health in the workplace. There are many, many benefits to this for both employers and employees. The employer pays a small fee for the counselling, making it accessible for the employees. This gives the workplace access to confidential support on a wide range of issues, anything that could be a source of stress or anguish leading to decreased job satisfaction or productivity. Even outside of these issues' effects on work, providing your employees with mental health support is a generous thing. Trained counsellors are available to deal with a wide range of issues, such as:

 

Anxiety

Stress

Depression

Grief and loss

Addictions

Anger management

Relationship difficulties

 

If you're unable to offer your employees flexible working, EAP can help with this too. For example, if you haven't made the move back to the office yet after the pandemic, EAP could help with this. Some employees may struggle always working from home and could find support through talking to someone through this programme.
Let them know that these resources are confidential and there is no shame in seeking help.

Read more about the effectiveness of EAPs here.

 

Train managers on how to support employees' mental health

An important part of supporting employees' mental health is educating managers on how they can play a role. This includes teaching them about the signs and symptoms of common mental health conditions, how to have difficult conversations with employees, and what resources are available to employees. Managers should also be encouraged to create an open and supportive environment around mental health in their team.
While you may be the director or owner of the company, it is not your sole responsibility to look after everyone. This is too much to take on. By training other managers on support, you can reduce the amount of stress you feel and allow yourself to work more efficiently.

 

Recognise warning signs of mental health issues

Employers should be aware of the early warning signs of mental health issues to provide early intervention and support. These signs could include changes in appearance, behaviour, or mood; difficulty concentrating; withdrawal from social activities; or increased absenteeism.

Familiarise yourself with the signs of common mental health disorders, so you can identify when an employee might be struggling. If you're concerned about someone, you could have a confidential conversation to see how you can best support them. You don't need to offer expert advice; simply let them know you're there to listen.

 

warning signs

Familiarise yourself with the warning signs of mental health struggles so you can assist in the right way if they arise.

 

Encourage healthy habits

Employers can encourage healthy lifestyles by providing resources like on-site gyms, wellness programs, or subsidies for healthy food options. This could help to reduce stress levels and improve mental health overall.

Help your employees maintain their mental health by promoting healthy habits in the workplace. Offer wellness programs, healthy food options, and opportunities for physical activity. And encourage everyone to take part in regular self-care practices like getting enough sleep, exercise, and relaxation.

 

 

Why You Should Support Your Employees

When employees are happy and healthy, they're more productive. They take fewer sick days, and they're more engaged with work. That benefits your bottom line.

Most importantly, it's the right thing to do.

Your employees are people, not machines. They have lives outside of work, and sometimes those things can affect their mental health. As an employer, you have a responsibility to support your employees through tough times.

 

 

Things to Be Aware Of

Despite it being a good thing to take steps to improve employee mental health, some issues could arise.

Employees may view any changes as an invasion of their privacy. You should remain clear about what changes are being made, and why, and emphasise that the objective is to build a healthier workplace for everyone.

Additionally, employees may feel that they are being treated differently if they have a mental health condition. It is crucial to ensure that all employees are treated equally and that any accommodations or support provided are based on need, not on diagnosis.

It's always a possibility that employees will misuse any resources or support that is put in place. It is important to have clear policies and procedures to ensure that employees know what is expected of them and any consequences of misuse.

 

Despite this, there are many benefits to improving mental health in the workplace. Employees who feel support are more likely to be productive, engaged, and loyal. Additionally, a mentally healthy workplace can reduce absenteeism, presenteeism, and lower healthcare costs - if this applies to your business.

 

supported employee

Supported and happy employees are more likely to be productive and feel higher job satisfaction.

 

 

Conclusion

By taking these steps to improve employee mental health, you can create a workplace that supports and helps them thrive - but it's not just this. You can promote the steps you've taken and the schemes you are part of, to attract prospective employees. knowing they will be supported in the role will help you attract new staff members if and when you are looking to grow.

This will lead to happier and more productive employees and a healthier bottom line for the company.

It's unlikely that implementing every one of these strategies will be viable or attainable, especially for a small business. Making small steps, and generally letting your employees know that you are there for them and support them with any mental health issues they have, will make a difference.

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