Colin James
Professional Massage Therapy


Just what is exciting about Mental Health In The Workplace Approaches now?

Organisations are looking for innovative strategies and solutions that enable their employees to both self-manage their wellbeing and access help when needed. Businesses of all sizes can respond to the needs of employees who may be at particular risk of stress caused by work and working conditions, or who may be experiencing mental health problems for other reasons. Well-implemented policies for managing employee absence are important for ensuring that employees who are experiencing stress can be identified early and offered support. In 2015-16, work-related stress accounted for 37 per cent of all work-related ill health cases and 45 per cent of all working days lost due to ill health. The total number of working days lost due to work-related stress, anxiety and depression was 9.9 million days, an average of 24 days lost per case. However, according to data from Mind, 95 per cent of employees who have taken off time due to stress named another reason, such as an upset stomach or headache. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are employer-sponsored benefit programs designed to assist employees in coping with and resolving personal issues that can impact their work performance, physical health or mental and emotional well-being. These programs can help employees work through a variety of issues that can affect mental health, including work-related stress, anxiety, depression, emotional distress, marital and family relationship concerns. Unfortunately, even the best organisations can fall victim to gossiping, which keeps employees from speaking up. Recent research from Heads Together found only 2% of employees would feel comfortable talking to their employer about their mental health. People experiencing mental health problems need to know it will remain private when they speak up. It goes without saying that a happy, healthy workforce is the key to a successful and high performing business. When staff are distracted with stresses or concerns in their life, they are less productive, motivated and creative in their work life. Absenteeism may also increase. When companies give employees resources to help tackle these issues, the effects on the employee and their work are reduced.

Mental Health In The Workplace Approaches

The focus on the importance of employee mental wellbeing has increased in recent years. Attitudes are shifting as the stigma that used to be associated with it is slowly but surely being removed, and more opportunities are being taken to bring the issue out into the open. Employers can use health risk assessments (HRAs) and/or biometric screenings to evaluate employee health and well-being. HRAs are voluntary assessments that rely on employee self-reporting of medical conditions and risk factors related to tobacco use, physical activity, diet and mental health. In turn, employers leverage de-identified and aggregated data from these assessments to implement health programs and measure improvement Paying attention to positive leadership and management styles, and stimulating a supportive atmosphere among employees, are actionable strategies for addressing employee mental health. Whether your company does reviews annually, quarterly, or monthly, make wellness a part of the process. Take the opportunity to find out if your employees feel taken care of and ask for feedback on how the company is supporting your staff’s well-being. A review isn’t just a moment for managers to provide team members with individualized feedback; it’s a critical moment to hear from them whether they feel valued, heard, and cared for as members of the company. Don't forget to send out proper internal communications around workplace wellbeing support in your organisation.



Lead By Example

For many of us, work is a major part of our lives. It is where we spend much of our time, where we get our income and often where make our friends. Having a fulfilling job can be good for your mental health and general wellbeing. It is incumbent upon all of us, to work together to improve workplace health. Every one of us should have the opportunity to benefit from the positive impact good work has on physical and mental health, especially those with existing mental health conditions. Working environments that pose risks for mental wellbeing put high demands on a person without giving them sufficient control and support to manage those demands. A perceived imbalance between the effort required and the rewards of the job can lead to stress. A sense of injustice and unfairness arising from management processes or personal relationships can also increase stress and risks to mental health. A person can experience excessive pressure and demands outside work just as much as they can at work. Stressors at home can affect those at work and vice versa. It is difficult to control outside stressors, but you need to take a holistic approach to employee well-being. To manage work-related stress effectively, you need to recognise the importance and interaction of work and home problems. Employers should ensure all line managers have information and training about managing mental health in the workplace. For employers not investing in wellbeing initiatives, how to manage an employee with anxiety can be a difficult notion to comprehend.

Engaged employees work more hours. Their work life spills over into their personal life in positive ways. People with high career wellbeing are more than twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. Mental wellbeing at work is determined by the interaction between the working environment, the nature of the work and the individual. While there is a greater need for support with mental health at work, there is growing evidence to suggest that individuals around the world are recognizing the importance and benefit of self-care more than ever. Mental and emotional well-being strategies should be focused on providing resources to employees, building communities, serving up meaningful content and communicating effectively. EAPs and mental health apps with guided meditation and therapy can help employees cope with stress, anxiety or depression by providing coaching, exercises and education. Many people are able to manage their mental health condition and perform their role to a high standard. Discussing ideas such as managing employees with mental health issues is good for the staff and the organisation as a whole.



Minimal Staff Turnover

Too many people experience discrimination on the grounds of mental health in the workplace, and employers often go unpunished for not taking appropriate action. Government should look to set clearer expectations of employers, who do not feel clear on their minimum legal and regulatory responsibilities when it comes to mental health, nor confident in fulfilling these responsibilities. Employees with mental health conditions can be performance managed. However, in some cases it may be vital to incorporate clinical and psychosocial information when doing so. This information about the employee’s condition, and its impact on their functioning, will guide the parameters of performance management. Companies can host seminars or workshops that address depression and stress management techniques, like mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation. Some companies may be hesitant to discuss the topic of mental health because of potential legal concerns when opening up discussions around a complicated and sensitive area. Despite the existence of anti-discrimination laws around mental health, mental illness, or mental disability that were created to provide guidance on navigating these areas in the workplace – not everybody gets it right (hence the hesitation). Work is a huge part of our lives so it’s vital that while we’re working, we’re happy and healthy. Thinking about concepts such as workplace wellbeing ideas is really helpful in a workplace environment.

Internationally, the impact of mental health awareness-raising initiatives in the workplace is already proving overwhelmingly positive. A 2017 Deloitte study evidenced approaches across Germany, Canada, Australia, France, Belgium and Sweden which are empowering employers to implement interventions. Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. Unfortunately, many managers are still unaware of how to improve mental health in the workplace. Prospective job applicants are often reluctant to divulge problems. If you are an HR Manager, you need to possess the skills to recognize when an employee is undergoing a mental health situation and appreciate what can be done in terms of providing support. Employees need to feel confident that they can be open about their mental health problems, to know that support is there if they need it and that anything shared would be in confidence. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that mental illnesses affect employees in several ways. Of course, they can negatively alter job performance and productivity, but mental illness also affects an employee’s communication with coworkers and their physical capability to function daily. Communication that emphasizes that leadership cares about concepts such as employers duty of care mental health should be welcomed in the working environment.



Really Listen

Promoting health and preventing harm to mental health and wellbeing is important because it’s the law: leaders and workplaces are legally required to prevent harm to health and safety not to discriminate in employment on the basis of mental health. According to specialist literature, exercise can also help reduce stress at work either in the form of company sport activities, fitness or jogging groups. It is therefore a good idea to include it as an element of the company prevention strategy. Simple steps like taking a lunch break, exercising (including going for a walk), getting enough sleep, taking time out to relax and eating a healthy balanced diet can help our mental health. Find supplementary info appertaining to Mental Health In The Workplace Approaches in this World Health Organisation article.



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