#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek – How to Support Employees
Mental Health issues are at the top of the mind of many employees and individuals. More so now than ever before, the pandemic has been a challenging time for people of all ages, and everyone is much more aware that it’s OK not to be OK.
With this week being Mental Health Awareness Week, it’s a stark reminder of how mental health and wellbeing has had such a significant impact on employees.
Recent research by MHFA England revealed that 25% of employees had no wellbeing check-ins since the start of the pandemic, and nearly a third have never had a conversation with their line manager about mental health.
Not only is this shocking, but it’s a wake-up call for organisations to take responsibility for their employees, bearing in mind a staggering 70 million working days are lost each year due to mental health problems.
Employers need to understand that their duty of care not only extends to health and safety training in the workplace, but mental wellbeing also needs to be considered.
This year’s theme for Mental Health Awareness Week is about connecting with nature to improve mental health. Business leaders need to reach out to their employees to not only provide support but encourage employees to take a break and have a walk at lunch to get away from their screens.
Fresh air and connecting with nature bring a sense of joy and calmness and for employees dealing with stressful work environments, having this break is imperative. Creating work initiatives such as a 30-minute walking challenge in the local area is a fantastic way to push employees to take that first step in getting a mental break.
Where many employers can’t fully support their employees with mental health problems, is because they haven’t had the training to do so. Understanding what symptoms to look out for in your employees is crucial to supporting them in getting the help they need. Being able to spot tell signs of stress, a change in mood over several weeks to an employee suddenly arriving early or late to work regularly can all suggest an employee is suffering from stress or mental health issues.
Employers need to take responsibility for their employees, whether staff are in the office, working remotely or even in a hybrid set-up. Understanding and taking the time out to check in on employees is imperative. Employees working remotely are more susceptible to not sharing how they really feel or allowing stress from their work or personal life to overtake them. Creating a culture of openness where employees feel comfortable sharing their worries, stress and mental health problems will support those employees that need it.
People suffer from mental health issues for a variety of reasons, but organisations can encourage employees to learn how to deal with mental health and stress. Learning to manage personal stress and mental health is necessary to help overcome their worries and anxiety.
Encouraging employees to do some training can help them develop coping strategies for stress and mental health to improve their wellbeing. Tactics such as how to be better organised in the workplace or perhaps better at communicating your worries can all support the individual to feel better.
Organisations can now help their employees in a variety of ways to get the help they need. As not all employees will want to openly discuss their mental health issues with a colleague, offering mental health support, options for downloading apps, counselling or even getting help from a local mental health charity can allow employees to talk about their worries with a professional and get the help they truly need.
Building a culture of positive mental health and openness with employees is the best way to help improve their wellbeing. Not everyone likes to admit when they need help, but being supportive, asking questions and supplying training and resources for both managers and employees will help keep things in perspective.
Darren Hockley, Managing Director at DeltaNet International
DeltaNet International specialises in the development of engaging compliance and health and safety eLearning courses, as well as tailored training solutions, designed to mitigate risks and improve employee performance.