5 steps to support mental wellbeing in the workplaceby
I first started my own business in e-commerce a few years ago, but as much joy as you get from running your own business, it can be stressful and demanding
My work was all-consuming and I wasn’t prepared for the mental strain of running my own business. It reached a point that I had a lot of work-related stress, I was really burnt out and eventually hit a brick wall. I didn’t know where to turn to at this point, eventually seeking psychological help.
However, seeing that the efforts in mental health are focused on healthcare as opposed to wellbeing, and the suffering that this caused people because they didn’t have the correct tools to manage their mental wellbeing, I started a business aimed at helping individuals and businesses achieve their full potential with the help of a digital tool.
According to the World Health Organisation, as many as 450 million people globally are suffering from mental illnesses, with mental health being the number one cause for sick leave. Which is why it is so important that organisations provide their staff with pro-active insights and tools to help them manage their wellbeing.
While many businesses have done a lot to ensure that the physical health of their employees is at the forefront, not enough has been done to put mental wellbeing on a level with the physical.
Companies should also adapt their working practices to help those suffering from mental health conditions.
Some of the things organisations can do to help are:
One of the most important things a company can do when it comes to mental health, is to consider prevention techniques, to stop their staff from developing mental health illnesses rooted in stress.
For example, encouraging your staff to take regular work breaks, whether it is a few minutes away from the screen, or taking their full lunch break in order to reduce stress levels.
It is also worth thinking about success – how it is measured and how people are recognised for this. Acknowledging important milestones and celebrating achievements will help staff feel motivated and less stressed.
Lastly, encouraging staff to begin using digital tools can go a long way in helping them look after their mental health, as well as aid them in identifying and managing the areas of their life that cause them to experience stress.
There is still a strong taboo around mental health, especially in the workplace.
Mental health charity Mind found that 30% of staff felt they couldn’t speak to their manager about stress or their mental wellbeing, which suggests that the first thing you can do is to create an open environment.
If managers are noticing that their staff aren’t behaving or performing the same as normal, they shouldn’t hesitate to ask them how they are and to make it clear that there is an open culture, where discussions are welcome.
Most companies will have a dedicated person trained in giving First Aid, but no one who is capable of recognising and helping with, symptoms of mental health conditions.
It is worth making sure that you train one, or more people within the company to be able speak about and provide guidance, when it comes to mental health. There is a vast range of organisations to choose from which can provide training.
Not only should you have trained people amongst your staff to recognise mental health conditions, but you should also have a support system that will be implemented, should someone suffer from a mental illness.
Make sure that those you trained know about the strategy and are ready to implement it, should they need to.
The strategy could be as simple as providing the employee with flexible working hours, reducing their workload or distributing some of their responsibilities to others.
If you do have a member of staff who took some time away from work to work on their mental health, you should properly plan their return to the workplace.
Make sure to speak to them and ask how you could assist them to feel comfortable and confident about coming back to work.
Whether it is adjusting their hours to attend therapy sessions, have someone they can speak to at work, or providing them with flexible hours, the plan needs to be thought about before full working hours commence.