Improving mental health support for employees

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Improving mental health support for employees has risen to the top of many business’ checklists, and with recent events arising from Covid-19, these issues have never been more important. Mental health has been a long-standing issue for organisations across the globe, accounting for 54 percent of working days lost on an annual basis and it is currently the most common cause of long-term sickness in UK workplaces. Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12% and there are various different things, that we, as employers can do to improve mental health in the workplace.

Recognising the signs

We have a duty of care to not only spot the signs but develop an ongoing system to help and support our employees. We might notice that staff are more tired than usual, possibly making uncharacteristic mistakes and lacking in motivation. Timekeeping may slip and and they may appear very tired or drained. You may notice a colleague becoming isolated or distracted or at the other end of scale, speed up and become chaotic and take on too much work. These are all early warning signs and obvious signs of a possible mental health issue which need addressing.

Train your staff

Managing and supporting mental health at work will be considerably easier if you have designated staff members that can help. In order to change a work culture, you need to start at the top and allow the changes to filter down to your employees. Train your managers to recognise and focus on indicators of mental health problems. There are a number of different organisations running mental health training courses to help raise awareness in the workplace, many in partnership with Government initiatives to tackle the issues.

Thriving at Work was initiated by charity Mind in partnership with the Government. It sets out six core mental health standards that all employers should implement to promote positive mental health. It also outlines enhanced standards for ambitious employers who wish to lead the way. The guide encourages businesses to adopt the standards, provides advice on how to do so and explains what the benefits are.

Mental Health First Aid (England) was set up in the UK in 2007 after being developed in Australia. It was launched by the Department of Health as part of its drive to improving national mental health. The organisation has since delivered thousands of training courses, much like you would expect physical first aid courses to be, to organisations around the country.

ACAS has created a framework for positive mental health in the workplace. The organisation encourages businesses to understand the importance of mental health, the reasons why people suffer and what you can do about it.

Reassurance and communication

Communicate regularly and clearly with your team, whether it be general updates about your business, challenges relating to COVID-19, or the health and safety measures you plan to introduce. Some staff may still be working from home, some may have returned to work and others may still be furloughed, but communication is of upmost importance to alleviate fears and keep staff feeling involved and reassured.

Supporting a colleague who has a mental health problem is about helping them to find ways to recover, helping them to stay well, and ensuring that the workplace is a safe and pleasant place to be, free from discrimination. Remember that the best expert on a person’s needs is themselves – if there is one golden rule for supporting a colleague, it is never to assume and always ask.

For further advice and assistance in improving mental health support for employees please contact Centric HR.

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