It’s Time to Talk about mental health in the workplace

Many of us feel sad, anxious or stressed at some points in our lives, often as a response to difficult life events and experiences.

Usually these feelings go away once the situation changes, but sometimes they can persist or even get worse. They start to change the way we act and think, and this in turn can impact our enjoyment of life.

Mental health problems affect one in four of us, yet too often people are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless for experiencing them.

We know that talking about mental health can feel uncomfortable – especially in the workplace – but it doesn’t have to.

Here we’ve shared a few ideas about how you can provide mental health support and encourage openness amongst your employees in the workplace.

Talk openly about mental health issues

If staff feel confident that they can talk openly about mental health, then problems are less likely to build up. Employers should strive to create a supportive environment where staff feel comfortable enough to discuss mental health issues without worrying about stigma and discrimination.

In order to do this, employers should remember to treat mental health as equally important to physical health. Learn how to support someone with signs of mental health issues, and how to properly manage absence caused by this.

It’s also important to make sure employees have regular one-to-one meetings with their managers, so they have plenty of opportunity to talk about any problems they’re having.

Encouraging positive mental health is another significant step towards open communication in the workplace. This can be done by arranging mental health awareness training and workshops, or appointing mental health ambassadors who staff can talk to.

Raise awareness of workplace mental health support

Whether you work in your company’s HR department, you’re a line manager, or just part of the team – you can help to signpost others to the support they need.

Familiarise yourself with any mental health initiatives your employer provides, such as an Employee Assistance Progamme (EAP), and share links or information with your colleagues internally. If you have personal experience of using an EAP you might also consider talking about how useful it has been, showing others how easy it is to get the support they need.

Time to Talk Day 2020 is an excellent opportunity to share this information throughout your organisation or department – it gives you a great reason to raise awareness without colleagues wondering why.

Educate yourself and your team to recognise warning signs

Being aware and informed to spot any symptoms and warning signs of employees who could potentially be suffering from mental health issues is a vital skill for all colleagues.

Not only will this allow you to offer help and support to your colleagues as soon as possible, but it could even save their life.

Many employers now offer training for staff on recognising the signs that someone is having a tough time, so why not put yourself forward? Mental health first aid training is offered by a number of external providers, including Vivup, and this will help you get support for colleagues in need.

Remember to listen

Encouraging people to talk openly about their experiences with mental health is key. At the same time, it’s also about learning how to listen to these experiences with an open and supportive mind.

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Being available to listen is often the most important thing you can do, so invite your colleagues for a coffee and a chance to talk. From there, you can then either offer support by pointing them in the right direction, or if you’re very worried then speak to the relevant person within your organisation. Training will help you decide on the best course of action.

For more information about mental health in the workplace – and to find out how Vivup can support you – read more about our Employee Assistant Programme (EAP).