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Mental Health in the Workplace

What do you do to support your employees?

Today is International Suicide Prevention Day, and now more than ever we should be prioritising mental health in the workplace.

The World Health Organisation defines mental health as a state of well-being in which every individual realises their potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.

It is true that we all experience low moods and sadness at times, however, there are some things that happen in our life that can affect our mental well-being. These have the ability to impact our work life, and in turn our work environment can also affect our mental health.

As we all know we are currently in an “unprecedented time” with COVID- 19. This virus has caused a rapid upheaval of the world as we know it with governments and workplaces navigating their way through it to the best of their ability.  All this change means workplaces may be changing the way in which they work, restructuring or changing systems,  this can have a huge impact on an employee’s mental health.

Going in and out of lock down, people have been and may still be working from home, this can lead to feelings of isolation and being lonely with the lack of social connection and stimulation. Some people may be worried out losing their job and the financial implications this would have on their family.  There is so much uncertainty in the world at the moment so now is the time to support our employees and talk openly about mental health.

The average person spends a third of their life in the workplace!  They may see you more than what they see their family, so it is important to have a work environment that promotes good mental health. You are in a good position to observe how an employee behaves and responds in different situations.

So, what can you do?

  • Check in and have those difficult conversations - If you ask someone “Are you okay?” they will respond “Yes”, even if they are not. So, think about using the following to start the conversation.
    • I’ve noticed you don’t seem to be as happy as you were
    • I have noticed you are looking more tired than you have in the past.
    • I am not upset; I am concerned for you.
  • Normalise talking about mental health in the workplace! – You can do this by talking about mental health as you would performance, health and safety in day to day operations.
  • Act on disclosure – If an employee is able to disclose information to you, make sure they receive the appropriate preventative or reactive support required (providing a mental health day is not necessarily the best solution).
  • Offer EAP Services – Provide a service where employees can go and get free confidential help.

Mental Health has traditionally been seen as taboo, but with the resources and support available, there has never been a better time for organisations to start the conversation!

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