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5 Key Ideas To Support Mental Health Awareness at Work

Sep 19, 2022

Mental health is an important issue that often gets overlooked in the workplace. Though it may be difficult to talk about at first, business leaders should be taking an active role in promoting mental health awareness within their organisations.

Mental health is an important issue that often gets overlooked in the workplace. Though it may be difficult to talk about at first, business leaders should be taking an active role in promoting mental health awareness within their organisations.

Throughout this guide, we’ll take a look at why mental health awareness is so important at work, how you can improve mental health awareness throughout your company and five key mental health awareness at work ideas that can support your entire workforce. Let’s go!

 

Why is Mental Health Awareness Important in the Workplace?

To promote Workplace Mental Health, awareness is a vital first step. In fact, there are numerous mental health benefits of workplace mental health awareness initiatives. Here are just a few reasons mental health awareness is so important in the workplace:

Early detection and intervention for mental health issues

Mental health awareness in the workplace can help identify employees who may be struggling with mental health issues. This can lead to earlier detection and intervention, which can make a big difference in the long run.

Improved productivity and engagement

Mental health awareness at work can boost employee morale, reduce stress, promote positive mental health and signpost people to the right mental health support. This can lead to improved productivity and engagement from employees.

Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism

Mental health awareness in the workplace can lead to better mental health for employees, which can in turn lead to reduced absenteeism and presenteeism. With up to £45 billion lost by UK employers every year to mental health-related absences, this is a huge benefit for both employees and employers.

 

How can you improve mental health awareness at work?

Mental and physical health deserve equal treatment, even in the workplace. 

Just as employees have a strong general understanding of physical health and the signs that accompany it, employees should have an idea of how mental health issues can present themselves in a professional environment.

Employee mental health awareness starts with the employers. So here are a few key actions you can take to improve mental health awareness in the workplace.

Consider how you approach Mental Health Awareness Month

How do you participate in mental health awareness week (and month) at work?

When mental health awareness month comes around, there are a few key things you can do to make sure your workplace is promoting mental health in all the right ways. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t simply showboat mental health awareness on social media channels. While this has a useful place in Mental Health Awareness, as an employer you should be doing more than just posting a generic image on Facebook, so make sure you are using social media for mental health awareness effectively if you do join the conversation.
  • Get employees involved in the conversation. Encourage them to speak up about their experiences with mental health, whether that’s in blog posts, vlogs, articles or even just within the workplace itself.
  • Highlight key resources with a resource centre. If you don’t already have one, set up a resource centre with information on mental health support services both in and out of work.
    This can be an online portal or even just a physical space in the office where employees can go to seek help. Mental health awareness week makes a great time to set up something new and bring it to your employees attention.

Encourage employees to discuss their mental health at work

Mental health discussions are a vital part of mental health awareness. They help to destigmatize mental health, encourage people to seek help and show that it’s okay to not be okay all the time.

By encouraging your employees to discuss their mental health at work, you’re sending a powerful message that mental health is just as important as physical health and that it’s okay to talk about, improving mental health awareness in the workplace.

Promote employees mental health throughout your business processes

Awareness is vital for a mentally healthy workplace. However, it’s important to back up your mental health awareness initiatives with actionable steps that promote mental health throughout your business processes.

Here are a few things you can do structurally to widen your company mental health awareness:

  • Encourage employees to take breaks, both mental and physical. This can be built into the work day with regular break times, encouraging employees to use their holiday time or even just allowing employees to take a few minutes to step away from their desk when they need to.
  • Review your reasonable adjustments and sick leave policy. Make sure that they’re inclusive of mental health and don’t discriminate against those who need to take time off for their mental health. This is a legal requirement per the Equality Act 2010.
  • Review your company culture and values. Do they promote a healthy work-life balance? Do they encourage employees to speak up about mental health issues? If not, it may be time for a refresh. Find some ideas below.

 

5 Key Mental Health Awareness at Work Ideas

Get involved in the conversation

The first step to mental health awareness is to get involved in the conversation. As a business leader, you need to lead by example.

A top down approach is essential, meaning that it starts with management and cascades down through the workforce. Promote an open door policy where employees feel comfortable approaching their managers to voice any concerns they have.

This also means having open and honest discussions about mental health with your colleagues, leadership team and employees. You could create a message board – or even a Slack channel – where people can access key resources and start discussions.

If you know an employee is struggling, have a one-on-one conversation with them. This could be a team leader checking in with an employee they think may be struggling or a manager having a more formal meeting.

The important thing is to listen without judgement and signpost them to any support they may need, whether that’s from within the company or external agencies.

 

Provide training and development opportunities

The best way to create a culture of mental health awareness in the workplace is to provide employees with training and development opportunities on mental health.

This could include everything from company-wide mental health awareness training to enrolling team members into a Mental Health First Aider course. full Mental Health First Aid training for key members of management.

Mental health awareness training will help to equip your employees with the knowledge they need to identify the early signs of mental ill-health in themselves and others. It will also provide them with information on how to support their colleagues.

Mental Health First Aid training goes one step further and provides employees with the skills and confidence they need to support someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis. This training can be invaluable in knowing how to respond in an emergency situation.

Both of these types of training will help to create a more open and understanding culture around mental health in the workplace.

 

Ensure employees are aware of your mental health policies and procedures

It is vital that employees are aware of your mental health policies and procedures. This includes any reasonable adjustments that have been put in place to help those with mental health conditions.

Employees should know how to access support if they are struggling with their mental health, as well as what adjustments can be made to their working environment or hours to help them.

Your policies and procedures should be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure they are up-to-date and fit for purpose. The mental health landscape is constantly changing, so it’s important that your policies reflect this.

Your policies and procedures should also be easily accessible to all employees. They should be stored in a central location, such as your company intranet, and signposted in any relevant employee handbooks.

 

Provide Workplace Needs Assessments

A Workplace Needs Assessment (WNA) is a way of assessing what support an employee may need to stay in work. It can be used for employees who are struggling with their mental health or living with a mental illness, as well as those who have been off sick for a period of time.

 

The Workplace Needs Assessment process involves meeting with the employee to discuss their needs and identify any adjustments that could be made to their role or working environment.

These assessments can work as workplace mental health screening tools and should be carried out by a certified assessor, such as an occupational health professional. The employee should be involved in every step of the process.

This is a vital tool in supporting employees with mental health conditions to stay in work. It can help to identify any adjustments that need to be made to their role or working environment, as well as signposting them to any other support they may need.

 

Create social events and activities that promote mental health

Social events and activities are a great way to bring employees together and promote team building. They can also be used to raise awareness of mental health issues in a more informal setting.

You could hold regular social events, such as monthly team lunches, virtual quizzes or other creative activities that get your team together in a healthy setting.

You could also organise company-wide charity days or sponsored events to support mental health charities. This is a great way to engage employees in something that is close to their hearts, whilst also raising vital funds for charity.

Finally, you could create social spaces in the workplace where employees can take a break from their work and unwind. This could be anything from a quiet room with comfortable seating to a games area with table tennis and other activities.

Creating social spaces like this will help to reduce stress and promote positive mental wellbeing in the workplace by giving employees somewhere to relax and unwind.

 

How can a person promote their own mental health and wellbeing at work?

To promote your own mental health in the workplace and join the mental health awareness conversation, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Talk to your manager or HR department about any concerns you have around your mental health. They should be able to signpost you to any support that is available within the company.
  2. Make use of any training or development opportunities on mental health that are offered by your employer. This will help you to develop a better understanding of mental health and how to support yourself and your colleagues.
  3. Be open and honest with your colleagues about your mental health. This will help to create a more open and understanding culture around mental health in the workplace.

 

Looking For Expert Accredited Business Mental Health Awareness Training?

At Thriiver, our goal is to improve diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We offer a range of Mental Health At Work Courses, which are designed to raise awareness of mental health issues in the workplace and provide employees with the skills they need to support their mental health.

Our courses are delivered by expert trainers and are suitable for employees at all levels, so don’t hesitate to get in touch.

For more information on our Mental Health At Work Courses, please contact us today!

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