How can you better support your staff’s mental health in the workplace? Keep reading for ideas on programs, resources and considerations for supporting your staff with such an important issue.
What is ‘Mental Health’?
Before we get started, let’s clarify what we mean by mental health. Mental health refers to the condition of an individual’s psychological and emotional well-being. Whether we are experiencing work-related anxiety and stress or suffer from specific mental health disorders, mental health and well-being are extremely important.
Mental Health is Not Just a ‘Personal’ Problem
Separating personal life from work life has never been, and will never be, a realistic concept; it’s simply easier said than done. It is difficult for humans to assume a new character based on our environment, despite what Erving Goffman may have to say on the matter.
Our emotions and mental state affect our bodies and minds every second of every day. Not only is it nearly impossible to dictate the condition of your emotional and mental health and well-being, but it is also simply unhealthy to do so. Fortunately, we are moving towards an employment environment where working from home and the pandemic have fostered flexibility and the understanding that work and personal life are intersectional.
This understanding of intersectionality is a newer way of thinking, so the thought of fostering an environment that rejects stigmas surrounding the topic of mental health and incorporates a supportive and educational environment may seem overwhelming. When starting your journey to mental health enlightenment in the workplace, there are a few things to consider that we have listed below to try and make this process seem less daunting.
For Individuals Who May Be Struggling:
Ideally, you need to know how to manage your mental health at work – this means understanding your mental state and being mindful of any diagnoses you may have and how your workload may impact your emotional health. Whether you ask your therapist for help locating resources or do some research based on your specific condition(s), the most important thing is to ensure that you are prepared to take a step back and practice actions that help keep you grounded and de-stress you.
A few suggested practices are:
- Saying mantras when in high-stress or anxiety situations – A study in 2016 concluded that mantras help to improve attention and reduce depressive symptoms, stress and anxiety.
- Deep breathing helps when you are feeling anxious or if you may be having a panic attack. Deep breathing is a simple technique that’s excellent for managing emotions. Not only is deep breathing effective, but it’s also discreet and easy to use at any time or place.
- Regular and consistent self-care assessments. During periods of stress, self-care sometimes takes a back seat to other responsibilities. Combat this by planning regular check-ins to ensure you stay on top of your physical, mental, and emotional health.
- Read our blog about burnout to see if you may be suffering from this difficult condition in the workplace.
- Speak up! Talk to your boss about what’s going on. It may help you if you explain the situation. Having the conversation may feel anxiety-producing but try to think of it as reporting a physical health problem. Stick to the facts and how your mental health may impact/is impacting your work and productivity.
- Have an idea of how to reach out to a colleague when you may need support. Try to have one or two colleagues you can reach out to when you need mental and emotional support.
For Management Providing Support:
According to the Workplace Mental Health Institute, mental disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion due to declines in productivity, quality of work, as well as absence. Mental health is not an individual problem; rather, it is a communal issue.
A few things to consider when supporting mental health in the workplace:
- Learn how to recognise when someone needs help. Many tools and training opportunities provide information/resources to help management identify the signs.
- Provide information on medical support for employees. Information can be provided virtually via email, through a portal on your internal system, or in general workspaces such as on notice boards or pamphlets. It is important that you have information from a variety of wellness organisations available for your employees.
- Some valuable resources in Cayman are:
- Create open spaces in work and allow for safe, supportive, inclusive and open conversations surrounding mental health.
- Ensure you are consistently educating your staff on different mental health issues and how to support individuals who may be dealing with mental health obstacles.
- Do not make mental health taboo – it should not be ‘hush hush’; constant communication is vital! Ensuring your office openly speaks about mental health is essential to providing a supportive environment.
- Consider implementing wellness benefits within your organisation. Wellness programs encourage employees to eat healthy foods and exercise, reducing the risk of long-term health problems and helping them feel more energised and happy throughout their work days.
Going beyond “Are you okay?” is one of the most important investments an organisation can make. Mental health impacts everyone and remembering that you employ human beings and not robots is a necessary step in the right direction to protecting your greatest assets – your employees.
How Connect by Nova Can Support Your Efforts
Connect by Nova offers a free Burnout 101 training for employers, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to schedule this for your teams to benefit from – we can also build bespoke trainings to fit the needs of your team, so please reach out if you have a topic that you feel would be especially relevant to supporting your staff further.