Mental health has begun to become a commonplace problem among workers around the world. These issues can occur as anxiety, panic or depression or it just could be experienced as stress and burnout. But sadly, these problems only are in rising.
The mental health of your employee should be of high importance to you since it is estimated that for an average employee about 70 days per year are lost due to mental well-being issues. An employee facing mental health problems should be given mechanisms to ask for help and receiving it.
Due to the lack of awareness about mental health problems, a study tells, 9 of 10 people who are facing mental issues are prone to experience stigma and discrimination. We all live in a society where relaxation is overrated – and that is probably why only 1 in 5 people take a day off stating the reason as stress.
Since this is a sensitive topic of discussion, how can one manage mental health-related problems at the workplace? How do you start a conversation and how can you help your employees to better their mental well-being? What can you do best to help? Let’s see how to tackle these problems.
Mental health is defined as the level of psychological well-being an individual is experiencing. Someone who possesses good mental health exhibits a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment with their surroundings. Mental Health is significant in interactions and efficient participation at work, at home and other social situations.
For employees, is important to feel good at work, to be happy and enjoy what they are doing. A motivated and happy employee will only be more productive and loyal to the company. Because every one of us is different, so are the reasons that make us happy and joyful. Yet, there are some basic things managers can do to tackle these problems so as to manage mental health at the workplace.
One of the most difficult things to do is to talk about one’s problems with their manager. This task might prove to be as difficult even for the manager. The conversation would be smoother if the manager is a leader who has enabled ongoing dialogues and is liked and looked up to by his people.
Irrespective of the leadership capabilities of a manager the HR should enable such conversations to take place anyway. You can help managers initiate discussions with employees using the Mental Health Foundation’s events as a model. The Mental Health Foundation organizes a “Tea and Talk” event every October that aims at encouraging and starting conversations about mental health at the workplace.
You can conduct a similar event and engage the employees to have carefree and friendly discussions around the topic.
Like we stated before, a happy and content employee is more productive and motivated to accomplish his work tasks. Thus, it is important for managers to identify and help employees in need of counselling. But, to help someone in a mental health need, one must be able to recognize the symptoms exhibited by the individual. Since managers are the closest to their team members, once learnt, they can easily take notice of such symptoms.
A good idea would be to provide pieces of training for managers using leading experts on mental health issues. This way, they may learn how to recognize problems and how they can help their staff to overcome them. They will be taught how to start a conversation and how to find out the root causes of these problems.
You should even consider investing in such training even for your employees. Also, ensure that there are formal mechanisms through which line managers are made to spend time with the employees and thus improve their team cohesion. It is seen that employees who trust their manager will speak about his problems easily.
It is important that all managers need to know about mental health but equally, the employees too, need to be aware of the effects of stress and burnout on their health.
Employees need to be encouraged to take regular breaks and to go for a short walk, for example. You can introduce innovative types of breaks like introduce a ‘no email break’ that forbids the employees to access emails for an hour.
For people to share their most intimate thoughts, they need to fully trust the people they are sharing it with. But, how can they become closer to each other if they always are surrounded by work? You can organize an all-staff board games night or a movie night. You can also have evenings out or activities like paintball or bowling. What is important to keep in mind while choosing these activities is whether these help employees bond and relax.
A cosier and stress-free working environment can be shaped in all its small details. For example, job descriptions are the first documents from the company an employee interacts with. He learns what his responsibilities, tasks and benefits are.
That said, over-ambitious job descriptions could also a source of stress for employees because most of the job descriptions are built for the perfect employee, who does not exist. Instead, set clear and realistic expectations.
As an employer, managing topics like mental health might not be a piece of cake. Encourage the development of an open culture where everyone can express his emotions and feelings. Organize bonding events where employees and managers have the opportunity to discuss topics that are not work-related. You can also offer managers the opportunity of taking part in courses and pieces of training that will help them discuss these topics with their staff.