Mental well-being in the workplace: how can businesses help?
It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week focuses on raising awareness for mental health problems and improving the support available for people who are struggling worldwide. The theme this year is body image.
There are many organisations who are working towards improving mental health services, but there are still key issues that need to be addressed, including mental health in the workplace.
Over 15% of people in the UK are suffering at work with symptoms of a mental health condition. That’s as much as one in six of your colleagues struggling right now to get through their working day.
What is being done to raise awareness for mental well-being in the workplace?
Mental health at work has been a key focus for many mental health organisations, especially since it was the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017. Here a few organisations that are raising awareness for mental health at work:
Mind provides a support network for people suffering from mental health problems and provides tipson staying well at work. They also provide advice for businesses through their Mental Health at Work website. Mental Health at Work is a platform where businesses can find resources to make sure they are providing the right amount of support for their staff, as 56%of employers said they would like to do more to improve staff well-being but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance.
Heads together have developed a Workplace Well-being Programme which will deliver much of the help and support recommended by the government-mandated report “Thriving at Work”. The programme is made up of two elements. One is Online SME Employee Training which will provide employees with information and training about workplace mental health so that they can support themselves and their colleagues. The second element of the programme is an ‘Employer Gateway’, which is an online portal containing resources which will enable employers to address workplace mental health proactively.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) has also responded to the issues surrounding mental health in the workplace by outlining relevant principles, objectives and implementation strategies in their Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2010). These include things such as addressing social determinants of mental health, such as living standards and working conditions. The WHO has also produced the Protecting Workers’ Health series which provides support on common issues such as harassment and stress which can affect the mental health of workers.
How businesses can get involved and improve mental well-being in the workplace?
TheReview of Mental Health and Employers reports that mental health problems are estimated to cost UK businesses £42 billion annually. It is also the leading cause of sickness in the UK, with 127 million hours of work lost in 2015 due to mental health-related absences, the equivalent of around 75,000 individuals losing the entire working year. Therefore, it is key for businesses to provide support for their employees who may be struggling with their mental health.
Here are 3 things that businesses can do to improve mental well-being in the workplace:
Let employees know they can talk to someone
According to Mind, 30% of employees do not feel they can talk openly with their line manager if they feel stressed, which highlights that there is a stigma that exists when it comes to talking about mental health within the workplace. Therefore, it is important for businesses to be open and understanding so that staff feel comfortable talking about any issues that may be causing them distress. One way to do this is to get line managers to have a casual catch up every few weeks with their team members to make sure they are happy with everything at work and also everything outside work. Reassurance that their manager is there to support them is a simple way to improve mental well-being in the workplace. Employers can also give staff access to various online resources that are available to help with mental well-being such as the ‘Employer Gateway’ that was mentioned previously.
Promote a healthy workplace culture
Having a healthy workplace culture is possibly one of the most effective things that businesses can do to improve mental wellbeing for their staff. Making the workplace a positive environment where staff feel like they are appreciated and feel motivated to do their best is essential in any healthy workplace culture. All work and no play isn’t good for anyone’s mental health and as we spend a large amount of our time at work it’s important we actually enjoy being there. At Language Insight we’ve had bake-offs, Easter egg hunts, Halloween fancy dress competitions, staff lunches, Foodie Fridays and many more! These activities can be at lunchtime or other quiet periods during the day and they don’t have to be often, even one a month can give staff something to look forward to outside their daily working routine.
Make sure employees have a work-life balance
Recently there has been a lot of focus on promoting a work-life balance, due to how busy our lives can be in the modern day. It is important for businesses to recognise that whilst their staff may thoroughly enjoy their jobs, they all have a personal life outside of work. If their staff feel like they are under constant pressure at work this will undoubtedly have a negative impact on their mental well-being. A way to make sure employees are getting the right work-life balance is to introduce flexible working policies, which will not only create a happier and more productive team but it also means that people will be more willing to work later if they are needed.
So this year why not make mental well-being one of your business’ priorities? It’s not just your employees who will benefit, but your business will too. There are lots more ideas that can be used in the workplace to improve mental well-being in light of Mental Health Awareness Week and even the smallest things such as letting staff know they have someone to talk to can make a difference to improving mental health in the workplace.