Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace

Discover how you can improve mental health in the workplace and support your employee’s wellbeing. Learn more on the impact of mental health at work.

Supporting mental health in the workplace is now more important than ever. In today’s workforce, one out of every six individuals faces mental health problems, encompassing issues like anxiety, depression, or stress, according to Mind Organisation.

Prioritising employees’ mental  health in the workplace is paramount, especially considering the link between mental health at work and performance, job satisfaction, and overall workplace dynamics. Managers need effective strategies to support their team members and foster a resilient and mentally healthy workplace.

What is mental health?

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It influences how we think, feel, and act, affecting our ability to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Good mental health is crucial at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. It involves managing stress effectively, maintaining healthy relationships and making sound decisions. Understanding and promoting mental health is essential for fostering a balanced, fulfilling life and a productive working environment.

Impact of Mental Health in the Workplace

Addressing mental health conditions extends beyond an individual’s personal life; it affects their working life as well. The repercussions of poor mental health include reduced engagement, creativity, and problem-solving skills, leading to diminished performance at work. Interpersonal relationships suffer as communication and collaboration become challenging for those grappling with mental health issues, disrupting team dynamics and creating an uncomfortable working environment. The consequences ripple into increased burnout, absenteeism and presenteeism. The aftermath of this will mean more sick days taken by employees and higher turnover rates.

By supporting mental health in the workplace, managers can transform the workplace into a positive and motivating environment. Tackling mental health challenges directly contributes to improved teamwork, better attendance and overall team performance. It helps to reduce staff turnover rates, elevates organisational reputation and attracts top talent, fostering a workplace culture that highly regards employee well-being. Raising awareness of mental health and recognising these broader impacts empowers managers to implement comprehensive strategies, nurturing a resilient and mentally healthy workplace.

How to improve mental health in the workplace as an employer

Conduct a Psycho-Social Risk Assessment

Managers should consider conducting a psycho-social risk assessment within their company. This involves evaluating various factors, such as workload, interpersonal relationships, and job control, to identify potential stressors affecting employees. By proactively addressing these factors, managers can create targeted interventions to mitigate stress and enhance mental well-being. Insights drawn from the assessment may reveal areas that require additional support or adjustments to work processes.

Promote a positive work environment with a focus on well-being

Fostering mental health and well-being in the workplace is crucial, and managers can achieve this by cultivating a culture of appreciation, recognition, and inclusivity. Acts such as expressing gratitude, acknowledging achievements, and nurturing team camaraderie significantly contribute to boosting morale and creating a supportive atmosphere.

In addition to focusing to promoting good mental health, prioritising employees’ physical health is essential. Encouraging regular breaks and promoting physical activity further enhances mental health. Managers can support short breaks, walks, or designated relaxation spaces during the workday, facilitating stress reduction. By leading by example and emphasizing the importance of both mental and physical well-being, managers create a holistic approach to nurturing a mentally healthy workplace environment.

Employ flexible work arrangements

According to a Flexjobs survey, 80% of respondents expressed increased loyalty to employers offering flexible working arrangements. Additionally, 52% had already attempted to negotiate flexible work terms with their current employers. The top reasons individuals seek flexible work align with the recognized importance of work-life balance, family commitments, time savings, and addressing commute-related stress.

Embracing options such as flexible hours, remote work possibilities, or compressed workweeks goes beyond meeting employee expectations; it actively contributes to alleviating stress and empowering individuals to manage their personal and professional lives more effectively, reducing mental health issues.

Implement Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

Data from a comprehensive study conducted by the National Behavioral Consortium, involving 56 different EAP vendors, underscores the significance of these programs. The study revealed that 86% of EAP users experienced clinical improvements, showcasing the efficacy of the support provided. Beyond clinical outcomes, EAP utilisation resulted in increased work productivity for 86% of participants and a notable 64% reduction in absenteeism.

EAPs are invaluable resources that offer confidential counselling and support services to employees. Managers should actively promote and communicate the availability of EAPs to ensure employees are aware of the assistance at their disposal. Encouraging the use of EAP services not only helps employees navigate personal challenges but also contributes to improved mental health and job satisfaction.


Incorporate mental health days as employee benefits

Supporting mental health in the workplace means that taking a mental health day off should not be a problem for your employees. Progressive organisations are increasingly including mental health days as part of their employee benefits. This proactive approach acknowledges the importance of mental health at work alongside physical health. Offering mental health days provides employees with the flexibility to address their mental health issues, reducing burnout, and enhancing overall job satisfaction.

As pillars of the workplace culture, line managers play a crucial role in shaping the mental health landscape of their teams. By recognising the impact of mental health on performance, leveraging EAPs, implementing flexible work arrangements, fostering positivity and encouraging breaks, managers can create an environment where employees thrive both professionally and personally. Understanding how to support your employees’ well-being is key to building a progressive workplace.

Prioritising mental health in the workplace is not just a benefit for the individual but an investment in the overall success of the team and the organisation. For more details on how to implement measures to support mental health services at work, contact us.

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Supporting mental health at work as an employee 

Maintaining mental health in the workplace is crucial for overall well-being and productivity. Here are some practical ways you can support your mental health while navigating your working life.

Talk about your feelings

Expressing your emotions is an essential part of managing mental health problems. Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious, talking to someone can make a significant difference. Share your feelings with a trusted colleague, friend, or mental health professional. Creating an awareness for mental health in your workplace can help normalise these conversations.

Speak up if the workload is too much

Excessive workload is a common cause of poor mental health in the workplace. If you find yourself struggling to keep up, it’s important to speak up. Discuss your concerns with your manager or HR department. Advocating for yourself not only helps you manage your mental health but also promotes a mentally healthy workplace where employees feel valued and heard.

Keep active

Physical health plays a vital role in maintaining mental health and wellbeing. Incorporating regular physical activity into your routine can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Whether it’s a quick walk during lunch breaks, stretching exercises at your desk, or a workout session after work, staying active can significantly benefit your mental and physical health.

Take a break

Taking regular breaks throughout the workday is essential for sustaining productivity and preventing burnout. Short breaks can help clear your mind, reduce stress, and improve your focus when you return to your tasks. Use these breaks to engage in activities that relax you, such as deep breathing exercises, reading or listening to music.


FAQ’s on mental health in the workplace

Is it okay to take time off for mental health?

Yes, taking time off for mental health is just as important as taking time off for physical health. Many organisations recognise mental health conditions and provide sick leave for mental health-related issues. Prioritising your mental health can help prevent long-term sickness absence and contribute to a more sustainable work life balance.

How do you tell your boss you need a mental health break?

Communicating your need for a mental health break can be challenging, but it is essential for your wellbeing. Be honest and direct with your boss. You might say, “I’m feeling overwhelmed and believe that taking a short break will help me recharge and return more productive.” Providing a brief explanation about your need for a break can help foster understanding and support.

How to support someone at work with mental health issues?

Supporting mental health in the workplace includes being there for colleagues who may be struggling. Listen without judgment, offer your support, and encourage them to seek professional help if needed. Promoting good mental health practices and creating an open, supportive working environment can make a significant difference in your colleagues’ lives.

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