Managers work really hard to improve their workplace culture by addressing various issues like work-life balance, workplace bias, bullying etc., and establishing intact policies against these issues but mental health is one of the most underrated workplace issues that most managers tend to sideline.
Did you know that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace?
The impact that work has on an employee’s mental health can spin off into other problems as well. Decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, disengagement, burnout, etc. are some of the most commonly known problems. On the more extreme end of the scale, employees may resort to drug abuse, alcoholism, reckless behavior that not only endangers their own lives but also that of others.
Not many managers realize this truth, but workplaces have a huge impact on the mental health of their employees. On average, an employee spends about 70% of their day at the workplace. In light of this, it is important for organizations to take an active interest in employee mental health and create a supportive environment for employees.
Here’s a list of few employee mental health initiatives that you can take in your organization.
The first step to solving any problem always begins with awareness. This could be through the form of workshops, seminars, conferences, etc., held by certified mental health professionals who can help spread awareness about mental health and de-stigmatize the problem.
Spread awareness about common mental health problems like depression, anxiety, social phobia, etc. Encourage your employees to come forward and open about their mental issues, so that you can help them overcome their issues.
Once you realize that a team member has changed their behavior or is exhibiting symptoms of mental health issues, it is best to have a conversation about it. Do not make assumptions before having the conversation; remember that your impression can be wrong too.
Choose an appropriate place to talk to them and discuss their change of behavior and the symptoms that you have observed over a significant period of time. Ask them simple questions and encourage them to share what triggers their mental health problem more.
Sometimes, people battling mental health issues just want someone to hear out what they have to say, so listen to them without judging or giving out opinions instantly.
Often times, organizations do have mental health initiatives and policies but they might be cursory health policies or focus more on physical health. One way organizations can be more inclusive and supportive is to revamp their policies to more broadly cover all aspects of health and wellness.
This includes creating provisions for employees with disabilities or employees with mental health problems and adding or offering resources (through the employee assistance programs) that they can utilize to seek help. It is also important that employees be aware of these policies and are encouraged to seek them out when they need to do so.
Having a good policy but not being able to use it renders the policy useless and prevents employees from seeking the health and care they need.
Talk to them and understand why they need help and develop an action plan for them to improve their mental health. List down the most likely symptoms that trigger the mental health issue and offer them support to deal with it.
Many workplaces offer free sessions with a therapist for their employees’ mental health assessment and support. Support your team members and encourage them to take therapy sessions for improvement.
A supportive work environment is one that practices healthy communication, does not engage in toxic or harmful behavior, and does not make employees feel stressed. Creating a healthy workplace environment might necessitate organizations completely overhauling their workplace policies to be more inclusive.
While this task might seem painful, it will go a long way towards creating employee health initiatives, which employees will accept willingly.
One of the reasons why people don’t open up about their mental health issues in front of their peers is because they fear that it would make them look weak. While having mental health issues doesn’t define how strong a person is, people might not always feel free to discuss it with everyone.
Remember that the Information that your team member shares with you is sensitive, and it is your responsibility to keep it confidential. Ensure that their information is safe and they can always rely on you for support.
Do you want to know more about ways to create a healthy work culture for your employees?
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