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World Mental Health Day - supporting mental health in the workplace

World Mental Health Day, hosted by the World Federation of Mental Health, is on 10 October each year. 

One in four adults and one in ten children are likely to have a mental health problem in any given year. This can have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people in the UK, and can affect their ability to sustain relationships, work, or just get through the day.

Mental health is a broad term and includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act and covers a wide spectrum of issues and conditions, some of which require expert help and treatment.

Mentalhealth.org describe good mental health as an asset that ‘makes us thrive’ – something that all good organisations aspire to. Happy, thriving employees mean better productivity.  Yet supporting the often invisible symptoms of stress and anxiety within the workplace can be a huge challenge for HR.   

Josie Diep, a working Transitions coach, told us “The mental wellbeing of Employees is integral to the success of any organisation.  Focussing on the wellbeing of your workforce fosters a positive environment and assures employees that their employer cares about their health and wellbeing.  This can help to facilitate optimal performance, minimise sickness absence, reduce grievances and improve staff retention”.

As well as creating a positive work culture that encourages respect, tolerance and trust, Josie recommends that HR and Management have an ‘open door’ policy and ensure maintenance of confidentiality regarding mental health related issues,  This will enable employees to feel able to ‘open up’ should they feel stressed and overwhelmed at work.

You may also want to consider the following suggestions to support employees:

MANAGEMENT SUPPORT

It is important for managers to recognise the signs and symptoms of work related stress and provide the relevant support.

Providing training to managers on the causes and consequences of stress, how to recognise the warning signs and what managers can do to help alleviate job related stress can help ensure that cases of excessive stress are identified and the necessary interventions area triggered.

Leaders and Managers at all levels should be aware of the impact of leadership style on employee’s stress levels.  Building a coaching culture within your organisation can encourage openness, honesty and can help to ‘nip problems in the bud’.   Regular, two-way conversations around work levels, as well as ensuring that individuals are properly trained and supported in their role, can reduce stress in the workplace considerably as well as enhancing morale and performance.

INCREASE PERSONAL RESILIENCE

Personal resilience is arguably the most important resource for coping well - particularly during times of challenge.  Personal Resilience is the ability to respond to, and capacity to recover quickly from, difficult times, challenges and adversity.  A resilient person is not only able to handle difficulties effectively at the time, they also have the ability to ‘bounce back’ quickly and effectively after the event.

Personal Resilience is not something you either do or don’t have – all of us have the ability to ramp up our levels of resilience, either by ourselves or with a career coach or counsellor. Consider a training workshop, webinar or appropriate literature to help your employees to increase their resilience.

SUPPORT CHANGE & TRANSITION

Stress and anxiety can be exacerbated – or even triggered -  by changes within the workplace.  In particular, outplacement can be a worrying and stressful time that can have an impact on mental wellbeing.  Losing a job appears at number 8 on the Holmes Rahe scale – just behind the death of a close family member or illness.  Yet many employees are left to manage their transition with little or no external support.

Michele Fisher, a Working Transitions coach, frequently shares Maslow’s hierarchy of needs with clients faced with job loss – this demonstrates how the potential loss of our role at work can impact our wellbeing on a fundamental level – financial security and a sense of belonging appearing just a rung or two up the ladder from our need for food and water.  Michele suggests that social interaction between colleagues outside of the workplace is encouraged and that social media is used to maintain contacts – this fosters a supportive network and stops affected employees feeling alone.  The provision of financial planning advice or guidance can also be extremely beneficial.

Properly supporting workplace transition – via group activities and workshops, coaching and other interventions - can result in greater confidence and support of the change, a positive outcome for affected employees and protection of brand reputation and staff morale.

To find out how Working Transitions can support your organisation visit www.workingtransitions.com

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World Mental Health Day - supporting mental health in the workplace
Author
Working Transitions
Date
12th Oct 2017
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