Today, on World Mental Health Day 2022, we explore the importance of creating a safe environment in the workplace to support the mental health of employees.
Last year, in our blog on investing in employee wellbeing, we talked about how business leaders and managers can look to make their employees’ wellbeing a priority by changing the culture and the working environment.
It’s one of our longer reads, but definitely still worth a moment of your time.
Mental Health in the Workplace: Statistics
The Mental Health Foundation states that 1 in 6.8 people experience mental health problems in the workplace and evidence suggests that 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions1.
Mental health can impact employee engagement, productivity, and reputation. Mind, the mental health charity suggests that right now, around 1 in 6 workers are dealing with a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress2.
Supporting Employee Mental Health
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released their recommendations for employers to help them better support the mental health of their employees.
The evidence-based guidelines include advice on helping organisations to feel confident offering individual and group interventions and challenging stigma in the workplace.
Employers have a ‘duty of care’ to do everything they reasonably can to support their employees’ health, safety, and wellbeing, including making sure the working environment is safe, protecting staff from discrimination and carrying out risk assessments.
Creating a supportive environment
Standing by employees when they experience a mental health problem supports them as a valued member of the team, but it also highlights the values an organisation withholds.
Trust and integrity are key drivers of engagement and organisations that support staff reap the benefits with regards to loyalty and commitment from employees.
It’s important that employers create an environment where staff feel able to talk openly about mental health by:
- Treating mental and physical health as equally important to one another.
- Making sure employees have regular catchups with their managers, giving them the opportunity to talk about any problems they’re having.
- Encouraging positive mental health, for example arranging mental health awareness training, workshops or appointing mental health ‘champions.’
Mental health education
Delivering training in mental health can improve managers knowledge, attitudes and behaviours for mental health and improve employees help-seeking behaviours.
The training available is designed to enable managers to identify and respond to employees who need a little more support due to mental health and encourages those who might be struggling in silence to share how they feel.
It is important that leaders set an example and educate employees on a culture of openness and understanding about mental health in the workplace, including considering where there may be any unhealthy working habits.
There should be no stigma around a healthy work-life balance and taking some time for mental health issues, as there wouldn’t be around taking time off for physical illness or injury.
Encouraging a social culture
Encouraging a more social culture will allow employees to socialise with one another and build deeper connections.
Employees who work remotely are at risk of feeling disconnected and isolated in their roles but having regular catch up’s and organising group social events and activities (either in person or online) gives people to opportunity to show an interest in the personal lives of others encourage better connections.
However, it is also worth bearing in mind that not everyone feels comfortable taking part in these activities and it’s important to ensure any social activities are varied and inclusive (for example those with personal commitments who might not be able to attend any after work events.)
Offering flexible working arrangements
Particularly after the pandemic, a lot of businesses have considered more flexible working arrangements after seeing the benefits this can bring for employees.
Flexible working policies help employees balance family commitments and their work schedule. Whilst is may not be for all workplaces, more and more are looking at ways they can introduce flexibility to support employee mental health and improve engagement.
Supporting Bluestone’s Mental Health
Our employee’s health and wellbeing are important to us. Bluestone has access to mental health platforms through Westfield and Bupa which include a 24-hour counselling and advice line, and access to confidential guidance on medical, legal or domestic issues, as well as face to face counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy). Employees can access these platforms at any point.
We also encourage a culture that is professional, friendly, and respective by providing a sound and supportive platform for success.
We are proud to support the mental health charity, Mind, who have developed a Mental Health at Work website, hosting over 400 resources to inform and advise employers on managing mental health in the workplace.
1 Mental Health Foundation – Mental health at work: statistics
2 Mind: How to Support Staff who are Experiencing a Mental Health Problem