Get mental health right from the start of the year

David Price – CEO of Health Assured

January 26 2021

Mental health. The more we ignore it, the worse it can become. 

And this year, it goes beyond just beating the January blues. With lockdown currently in full swing, it’s never been more important to check in with your staff.

Read on to see how you can manage your team’s wellbeing – all year round.

Remember your duty of care

If you’re an employer, you have a ‘duty of care’ to look after your staff. Along with making sure your workplace is safe, you’re encouraged to promote positive mental health.

In a nutshell, that could mean:

  • arranging mental health training for staff
  • offering wellbeing services, such as counselling
  • creating a supportive atmosphere

So while having happy and healthy staff is great for morale, it’s also part of being a good employer.

Keep staff updated with any changes

Two-thirds of workers have experienced poor mental health since the pandemic began. With uncertainty at an all-time high, it’s important to keep staff updated with any workplace changes. For example, are you taking any steps to make your workplace COVID-secure?

If your staff are working from home, they could feel isolated and anxious without regular online meetings. Take the time to regularly share updates and it should boost staff motivation and morale.

Even when lockdown ends, it’s still a good habit to stick to. Transparent and regular communication is only ever a positive thing.

Choose a mental health champion

Make it clear your staff can always come to you – or a certain team member – with any issues.

When staff experience poor mental health, it’s important they know who exactly they can speak to. It’s often worth choosing a mental health ‘champion’ to handle any wellbeing issues. And whether that’s you or a colleague, a mental health course will help your staff receive the right care in return.

Don’t worry, being a mental health ’champion’ doesn’t mean you need to be an expert. It just means you have an idea of where to direct your employee next – like an Employee Assistance Programme or a mental health website.

Reach out to your staff individually

It’s good to speak to your staff on a one-to-one basis.

While team meetings are great, it’s unlikely your staff will feel comfortable sharing personal issues in front of others. And they might not feel confident reaching out to you in the first place.

Instead, schedule regular meetings to check in with your staff individually.

It’s good to check:

  • How they’re currently feeling
  • How they’re coping with their workload
  • If they have any health and safety concerns
  • Whether they need extra support if they’re working from home

Keep up with these chats and your staff should hopefully feel comfortable opening up to you.

Learn to spot the signs

Mental health issues can often go unnoticed. Unlike a bad bout of flu or an injury, there’s not always an obvious clue.

However, there are certain signs which could tell you something’s wrong. Possible signs a team member is struggling could include:

  • Acting tired or uncharacteristically quiet
  • More sick days or timekeeping problems
  • Changes in their quality of work
  • A lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy
  • Any noticeable changes in behaviour or mood

If you’re currently working from home, it can be even harder to spot these signs. That’s why it’s important to stick to those one-to-one sessions and team meetings – even if it’s all done online.

Take a mental health training course

Talking to staff about mental health issues can be daunting – for everyone involved.

If you don’t know where to begin, guessing won’t get you very far. In fact, it could even make the situation worse.

Just like you learn about dealing with physical emergencies, you can take a mental health first aid course. This means you’ll be better equipped to spot any signs and handle conversations about mental health.

Talk about mental health on your employee’s terms

If a team member is dealing with mental health issues, talk it over in a way that suits them.

Maybe your employee hates video calls or talking over the phone. Or they might prefer talking to you in the morning rather than the afternoon. Whatever your employee prefers, it’s good to be flexible around their needs.

Most importantly, it’s all about listening. Stay calm, patient, and supportive – and allow your employee to talk freely.

During a conversation about mental health, remember to:

  • Listen very carefully
  • Ask open-ended questions to understand the situation clearly
  • Offer solutions and ways you could help
  • Reassure your employee that you’ll find the support they need

Use an Employee Assistance Programme

No one expects you to be a mental health expert. As a manager, you’ll want to focus on what you do best – taking your business from strength to strength.

But that doesn’t mean your team’s mental wellbeing should come second place. With an EAP, your team can access professional support and counselling whenever they like. It means your staff can overcome life’s challenges – while you focus on your business’s day-to-day needs.

With Peninsula’s EAP programme, your team will receive:

  • 24-hour employee helpline
  • Face-to-face counselling
  • Online support and resources

Ready to enjoy the benefits of a happy and healthy team? Take the first step and find out more here.

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