World Mental Health Day raises awareness of the importance of understanding mental health conditions. With conditions such as stress increasing every year, and employee absence already costing UK businesses over £12.7 billion each year, HR should be ready to focus on mental health in the workplace. Whilst tackling mental health conditions is better understood, there are proactive steps that HR can take to support positive mental health and limit the risk of staff facing invisible mental illnesses.
Supporting positive mental health can take place in the following ways:
- Running an awareness campaign about the support offered by the business, along with any workplace benefits, will remind staff about the resources they have available to them. Workplace benefits may include an employee assistance programme (EAP), private healthcare services or counselling programmes. HR may also wish to signpost employees to local support groups or telephone services that are available to support mental health.
- HR should take steps to promote open communication within the workplace. Whilst difficult to do, especially around such a private and sensitive issue, there are small changes that will help employees feel more comfortable to speak about mental health. Steps that HR could take include introducing a drop in hour where members of staff can come and talk to HR or a trained individual about any concerns, or setting up an internal mental health line that employees can call.
- Running a mental health awareness day, or wellbeing day, is a great way of engaging and speaking to the whole workforce about this important issue. The day can involve workshops about all aspects of mental health, such as how to personally detect this, strategies on deflecting stress e.g. meditation, healthy eating and lifestyle workshops.
- HR can schedule in specialist training for managers, in particular line managers, on how to spot signs of mental health conditions at work. Early intervention is key so recognition and talking to the employee at an early stage will help to prevent any mental health conditions associated with work from escalating.
- Encouraging employees to take time off and “switch off” outside working hours will have a positive effect on employees’ work/life balance and, in turn, their mental health. Periodic reminders about the amount of holiday leave available throughout the year will ensure staff are booking leave for the purpose of rest and relaxation. Managers should also be trained on setting realistic expectations for staff and managing workloads to limit the need for staff to carry out additional work outside of working hours.
Read more on how you can improve mental health in your workplace.