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10 ways to improve mental health support for employees

Mental health support for employees has risen to the top of many business’ checklists, and not a moment too soon.
Image of tangled and unraveled tangle, indicative of mental health

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10 ways to improve mental health support for employees

Mental health support for employees has risen to the top of many business’ checklists, and not a moment too soon.
Image of tangled and unraveled tangle, indicative of mental health

While the uncertainty arising from the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened matters, mental health has been a long-standing issue for organisations across the globe, accounting for 54 percent of working days lost in 2018-19.

It’s currently the most common cause of long-term sickness in UK workplaces.

In order to help remedy this, we have compiled ten invaluable ways you can enhance mental health support in the workplace.

1.) Be creative with your mental health support for employees

Your business will be facing numerous challenges over the next few months and it’s easy to get caught up in the uncertainty.

Try to lift spirits by being creative. Arrange video meetings where people can voice any concerns they have, or set up a webpage where employees can anonymously share thoughts and queries.

There are a number of remote working tools that can help you get creative with your support.

2.) Don’t forget to take care of yourself

As your business comes out of lockdown, you might be feeling the stresses of getting in new business, updating various procedures, and ensuring you are adhering to the required health and safety measures…all of which can affect your own mental health.

Set a standard for the employees you work with by how you approach self-care. Ensure you take time to rest and refresh, enabling your workforce to do the same.

3.) 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.

You should then begin to notice a healthier, more positive attitude towards mental wellbeing across your organisation.

If you’re looking to train staff, Birmingham MIND offers workplace wellness training sessions designed to help employees notice and assist with mental health issues.

Managing and supporting mental health at work will be considerably easier if you have designated staff members that can help.

4.) Reassure your workforce

You may already be engaging with staff who are working from home, as well as those that spent time on furlough. However, just because lockdown is easing, it doesn’t mean your communications should.

Employees across the country remain scared and uncertain as to what the future holds for them – according to SME Web, seven in ten furloughed workers fear they won’t have a job next year.

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.

Regular contact will go some way to ease the fears your employees may have during these unpredictable times.

5.) Address the topic of mental health directly

Don’t be afraid to be upfront about mental health support in the workplace – the only way to make a difference in your organisation is to make the change yourself.

Make sure that your workforce are aware that you’re here to support them during this transitional period.

6.) Be informative

Yes, it’s vital that you keep staff updated on a regularly basis, but make sure the information you provide is actually comprehensive.

Offering cryptic updates, unclear guidance or non-committal responses will only agitate employees further.

7.) Take into consideration different backgrounds

In your COVID-19 communications, make sure you consider factors that might be affecting different groups of people across your team.

You may have elderly workers, or employees who are caring for elderly members of their family, who may be anxious about returning to work and/or the health and safety protocols within the workplace.

Conversely, you may have staff members that live alone and – whether they’ve been working remotely or furloughed – may be feeling extremely isolated and withdrawn, and in need of support to reintegrate.

8.) Be sensitive and considerate

Mental health has been a taboo subject for a long time, especially in a workplace environment, and there will inevitably be people who feel uncomfortable or awkward discussing such matters.

Whether you are approaching a staff member concerned about their job or comforting an employee who may be going through a personal crisis, ensure you converse with them in a sensitive, measured and tactful manner.

9.) Allow your workforce to voice concerns

When it comes to managing and supporting mental health at work, ensuring your employees’ voices are heard will make a huge difference.

For example, survey your employees at all levels to pinpoint areas where your workplace needs to improve. Making these surveys anonymous will help to ensure honest feedback.

From this, you can begin to get a clearer picture of what challenges need to be addressed in order to reduce anxiety and mental health issues among your staff.

10.) Make your employees aware of mental health support in the workplace…and beyond

Improving mental health support will make a big difference to your employees’ morale and to your business – a 2019 World Health Organisation study estimated that depression and anxiety cost the world’s economy about $1 trillion each in year in lost productivity.

You can improve mental health support for employees by signposting them to where they can receive help.

Flag how to get in touch with your HR department and inform them of any designated managers you have that are trained in mental health support.

Further afield, there are a number of mental health charities in the West Midlands that can provide help and guidance. Along with Birmingham MIND, Forward Thinking Birmingham and The Waiting Room offer expert mental health support.

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