Jon Salmon: Why employers should be taking more responsibility for employees’ mental health

You will struggle to find anyone whose mental health has not been impacted by the Covid-1 pandemic. My anxiety went through the roof as I could see work disappearing as clients were potentially delaying or cancelling projects at the start of the year.

High-profile campaigns like Time To Change and Heads Together spearheaded by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, have helped raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with mental health. And hopefully now, we are all a little more comfortable to start talking about how we are feeling.

How an employer can best support its employees’ mental health is still evolving too. With so many of us still working from home, the lines have been blurred even more on what is the responsibility of the employer when it comes to supporting the wellbeing and mental health of employees.

Mental health support in the workplace is really important to me. It was in my first job in 1999 that I ended up being admitted to hospital having experienced a psychotic episode brought on by the stress of work, and not getting the right support when I lost my Dad to suicide when I was a teenager. At the time, my employer was very forward-thinking and luckily it provided private medical health insurance that allowed me to get the right help.

Now 20 years on, as I write this during a pandemic and the owner of my own company, we all need to realise that supporting the mental health of employees should be more than just a responsibility, and an essential number one priority.

In my opinion, organisations that prioritise the wellbeing of their staff will come through this pandemic stronger as a business. From training mental health first aiders to creating a culture of transparency and trust to have open and honest conversations. All it takes is a simple question with your team; ‘How are you feeling?’. The fact that they know someone cares and listens will speak volumes about you and your organisation. This is the most important first step employers can take in providing mental health support for staff.

Jon Salmon is mental health campaigner for Time to Change and Heads Together, director of the Speakers Collective and co-founder of Byte Entertainment

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