Positive Mental Health in the Workplace
Over the last few years, indeed over the last twelve months, we have seen a greater willingness to discuss mental health, and an increased demand for change in our workplaces.
This month included World Mental Health Day where, as part of that, ACAS released their latest guide ‘Promoting positive mental health in the workplace’. In addition to this useful, easy to follow guide, additional online resources are available which employers, and line managers alike, will find worthwhile. These include:
Employers, managers, and employees say that they are worried. Employees are worried about sharing, and then being seen as weak, a risk, and managed out of the business. Managers are worried about unintentionally saying the wrong thing and making the situation worse. Employers are concerned that they will end up in an employment tribunal for getting it ‘wrong’.
The above ACAS resources provide useful examples, and tips, to help managers and businesses have those conversations, and feel more confident in doing so. In reading them I noticed that they naturally include most points I would want to share, and which I have heard mental health experts’ cover, so please do read them.
In the last few weeks I have also been running a series of training for line managers, which has included how to have mental health conversations in the workplace. In addition to the positive feedback about the benefits of having training around handling conversations with employees, three points that often come up are:
1. Culture is key. This means ensuring any talk, or policies, around wellbeing is reflected in reality and led from the top. This includes reviewing workloads and targets, training, regularly creating awareness around mental health (including having mental health champions and more), and ensuring support exists for those suffering from mental ill health. Little things also count, so for example, whilst not encouraged, if you do occasionally work into the evening or weekend, time your sent emails to arrive during working hours, so that other employees do not feel an obligation to work from home, work longer hours, or become stressed knowing they face numerous emails, waiting for them in their inbox, on arriving at work.
2. Ask the question. I recommend, not least from personal experience, when having one-to-one conversations about mental ill health, that you actually ask your employee, co-worker, or friend, what they need and want for support. Everyone is different and what they need varies hugely.
3. Remove the stigma. Help reduce shame, or discomfort, by sharing your story when you are ready. Too many lives are lost in silence. Experts say that, when people see others talking about their mental health journey, they are more likely to do the same. Leading to more people getting help.
Hopefully, these guides and articles, alongside the growing number of talks and blogs, will continue to raise awareness, and in doing so will allow people to confidently have these discussions. Anything that helps to alleviate concerns, encourage support, and create change, is a step in the right direction. Thank you for being part of this and making a difference.
If you need additional support yourself, then please do call the Samaritans 116 123 (free) or email firstname.lastname@example.org . You can also speak to a professional, talk to your GP, or, of course, discuss it with a trusted friend.
Simona is a professional leadership trainer, coach and speaker, working with motivated individuals to create successful professional lives and purposeful personal lives. Her focus is on mindset and strategy. Her background includes over 15 years as an employment law solicitor, and a partner in a law firm.
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