Over the course of an adult’s life, employees spend up to 4,821 days at work. This creates an opportunity for managers and HR leaders to start a dialogue with their employees who may be struggling to cope and to create an environment of acceptance and to normalise asking for help. Managers can ensure they are providing helpful information and the support structures which employees may need.
Awareness and education is the key for developing a good understanding of mental health and how to support employees who are at risk. It is important to develop and implement policies that raise awareness of mental health and work towards reducing stigma in the workplace. If you talk about mental health openly and honestly it goes a long way towards acceptance of mental health in the workplace.
Building a culture of trust and support is critical in reducing the stigma so employees can feel safe to talk about their mental health without fear of consequences and trusting that there will be help and support. Protective factors can be developed and implemented, such as training that is related to leadership, positive morale, collaborate decision making, good communication and team collaboration. The evidence shows that acceptance and good working relationships, especially with managers, are a strong protective factor.
There is no one way to improve mental health in the workplace, but an action plan that develops and implements supportive measures to help improve wellbeing, both physical and mental, has been shown to help improve employee productivity, lower absenteeism and promote a positive workplace culture. Managers are in a unique place to promote positive mental health at work, and also in a position of care to their employees. For many people, going to the boss isn’t always the desirable option as they fear it’s inappropriate or they could even lose their job. Therefore, it’s a responsibility for managers to approach the person they may feel worried about and have a discussion on what can be done to help, including referring them to Newport & Wildman. Managers are not always aware or confident in talking about mental health with their employees and can be supported through our Manager Support Hotline.
Alison Keleher, Director, Newport & Wildman