Guest Blog by Colette Norbury
As the spotlight shines on mental health next month for world mental health day we challenge business owners and managers to consider committing to the bigger picture of mental health in their workplace and advocate the theme of ‘making it a global priority’.
But let’s ensure that the topic of mental health does not become a once-a-year gesture; a tick box exercise.
There is huge benefit to acting now, with studies confirming what professionals already knew. Businesses benefit when they adopt a genuine and committed approach to support mental health in the workplace.
‘With employers seeing a return of £5.30 on average for every £1 invested in staff mental health, the economic argument for putting wellbeing at the heart of post-covid recovery is clear’. (Deloitte: ‘Mental Health for employers – the case for investment, pandemic and beyond’, 2022)
Importantly, it makes human sense too. Measures that we take to educate, to reduce stigma and fear, and to help managers and their teams to feel more comfortable and confident in having conversations about health in the workplace, help to nurture a healthy and productive workforce. The resulting reduced absence, presenteeism and staff turnover benefit all.
Why Support Mental Health in the Workplace?
Everyone has mental health just as we all have physical health. Just as our physical health can change, so too can our mental health. Nobody chooses mental health difficulties.
The Equality Act 2010 protects people with any of the protected characteristics, which include a mental health problem, if it is classed as a disability. But whether or not, someone experiencing emotion difficulties fits this legal criterion, it makes sense to listen and to seek to understand, and to make reasonable changes or adjustments to enable them to carry out their work. This could help to prevent escalation of issues and promote a proactive and supportive culture. In our training, we explore tools that aid conversations like this.
Remember too that recruitment and retention are aided by employers who show genuine and active care for the wellbeing of their workforce.
Where to Start to Proactively Support Mental Health at Work
Plan your strategy, possibly with the help of an expert. There are some excellent resources that can help. Work at removing barriers that might prevent people from engaging with training. Having a well-informed team, where the stigma of mental health is explored and dispelled, is the start to supporting, respecting, and protecting those experiencing mental health difficulties.
Here are three key areas where you can make changes to support mental health at work.
1. Build Effective Relationships
Mental health is often hidden with 95% of people who are off work for a mental health reason not citing the true reason for their absence (Business in the Community).
Building strong genuine relationships is key to your team feeling comfortable in opening up. It is about trust. Knowing your team enables you to support them. Create an environment that supports understanding and conversation – and that includes active listening.
2. Sense Check Your Productivity Goals
All businesses need to have efficient productivity to be viable. But do not let the productivity compromise the mental health of your staff. The success and longevity of your business resides with both the output and the people who produce it. Productivity and mental health go hand in hand. Therefore, both need to be of equal standing on your Key Performance Indicators.
3. Endorse a Mental Health Culture
I am always appreciative of awareness days to highlight the importance of mental health in the workplace but avoid the trap of solely acting on those days. Enhance and evolve your company culture to put mental health at the heart of it all year round.
Plan a strategy that advocates your organisation’s mission and values. And take time to explore and share how you can all enjoy good mental health in your workplace. A ‘top-down’ approach is vital and provides the best results.
The Support Jewel Provides
No one expects you to have all the answers around mental health and how best to support your teams.
We help you to start the education programme, reduce the stigma and open up the lines of communication, through introducing robust respectful programmes that benefit all. Educating everyone is a key component to the cultural shift required, because we all have mental health.
At Jewel, the courses that we deliver also include important reassurance about boundaries; what is and what is not within our roles. Our training is not about producing mental health ‘experts’ or ‘therapists’, but to give workers the essential knowledge and practical skills that help us to ‘work well’ and thus prevent fallout.
We are currently providing mental health training with the following courses:
- Mental Health Aware (half day)
- Mental Health First Aid (2 days)
- Mental Health First Aid Refresher (half day)
- Conversations for Managers (half day – this is a follow-on from Mental Health Aware)
The topic is a fascinating one and learners always comment on how enjoyable the training is.
Did you Know Learning is Good for Our Wellbeing?
Keep asking questions, be compassionate, and keep educating yourself. And, where appropriate, share stories of how we have travelled the mental health continuum. Mental health problems are common so sharing our experiences of illness, of recovery and of what helps us to stay well provides hope, an open culture and reduces stigma.
If you would like to discuss these courses or would benefit from some support in developing a robust approach to mental health in your organisation, please get in touch.