You will have been hard pressed not to have heard the volumes of news recently about Mental Health and Wellbeing. With COVID restrictions and more people working remotely discussions about Mental Health have become more prevalent. It is important that employers are aware of employees’ wellbeing especially, if they are working remotely and are not always in the office.
What is Mental Illness
Mental Illness is described as a “health issue that can significantly affect how a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with other people”. It can come about in many different forms such as mood disorders, depression or anxiety concerns. It is not just about how a person feels but also how they behave. If there is a drastic change to an employees’ performance at work, for example, then it may indicate an underlying issue that could be linked to mental health.
1. Work Hazards
The workplace is a common area where employees feel stressed and anxious. Understanding the workplace and what hazards could lead to anxiety or stress a starting point. It is worth speaking to employees and ascertaining whether employees could be overloaded. A lack of support from co-workers or a lack of recognition for an employee’s accomplishments can affect mental health negatively. Bullying or Harassment in the workplace can also have an impact on the wellbeing of employees – and this can happen remotely! Early identification of any of these issues is crucial.
2. Making Reasonable Adjustments
If there are signs of work overload, then reasonable adjustments should be considered. This might include openly discussing with employees their working life and considering flexible working hours or extending deadlines or something as seemingly simple as breaking projects into smaller tasks.
The purpose of the adjustments is to ensure that employees work is still accomplished but without it having an impact on their Mental Health.
3. Reducing the Stigma about Mental Health
During the past year, there has been much more in the press about people suffering from mental health, including celebrities. Those with a high public profile have brought to the the issue of wellbeing and mental health to the forefront. Most notably we recently is the recent interview between Oprah Winfrey and Megan Markle which again had opened the discussion about mental health.
The stigma surrounding mental health is slowly being broken down and it is critical that employers consider it as no different from any health-related issue. Breaking down the stigma and allowing it to be discussed with co-workers or supervisors shows that there is nothing to be ashamed of and will hopefully bring about a culture of staff bringing matters to the forefront for discussion, rather than hiding them away and struggling.
4. Ongoing Education
Employers can be pro-active in understanding mental health. A great skill for HR and Managers is to learn how to talk to employees about mental health. There are courses available which will help managers understand how their people may feel and what they maybe going through. If they as managers are more aware of how people may feel, it will bring more empathy and understanding to any discussions they may have with employees.
5. Stay Dedicated
Just letting employees know that there are people there to support them and to encourage growth of their wellbeing is a great way to allow people to open up and avoid the stigma. Discussing wellbeing as a part of team meetings or the placement of information and guidance posters in the workplace (possibly advertising various support routes) can be very effective.
If employers create an environment which supports the wellbeing of the employees, this will help staff perform at their best. It is the duty of employers to look out for any mental health issues in the workplace and if these are found, then action and reasonable adjustments should be considered. It is important to talk to employees at a very early stage if there is a signs of struggle. An open environment about wellbeing is beneficial all round to employer and employee.
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