How to Support Employees’ Mental Health
Only 15% of employees, according to a recent study, would speak to their line manager regarding a mental health issue.
With employees mental health issues in the UK working population increasing, it is becoming critical that organisations address the shame and guilt associated with mental health.
Research BHSF, a health and wellbeing provider, has revealed that 42% of people phoning in sick, with a physical illness is, in reality, a mental health issue.
The research also underscores the need for greater awareness in the workplace, with an astounding 79% saying that their employer does not offer any form of mental health support. This situation means that an average of 8.4 sick days per employee, annually is leading to an increasing and avoidable strain on colleagues.
Early Intervention Strategies for Employees Mental Health
Many workers are reluctant to talk about mental health issues with their manager, as they worry it could affect things such as promotion, or that their colleagues will judge them, reinforcing the stigma already attached to mental health conversations.
To help challenge this, organisational culture must be encouraging, open and supportive, for staff to be able to approach their colleagues or line manager with any worries or concerns.
Regular discourse regarding mental health, during meetings, or one-to-one lunches, or even team building events could reassure workers to open up.
Early intervention measures could include, consciousness-raising through newsletters open days, with nominated responsible persons or mental health first-responders, who are there to offer support. Inspiring first-aiders to re-train as a mental health first-aider is good business sense.
Surveys are a great way to establish a working baseline. They are a low cost, effective method for benchmarking your business model with other employers. However, staff must confident and assured that any information they give will remain confidential for this to be a worthwhile and accurate assessment.
Employers can look for some of the many indicators of poor mental health, something as seemingly insignificant as poor time-keeping or attendance, being forgetful or easily distracted from tasks, becoming withdrawn, or isolated from colleagues, or reacting irrationally to minor situations.
These behavioural changes are often initial indicators and line managers are those usually in the best position to notice these.
When Should You Intervene?
If early intervention is taken promptly, and problems are dealt with efficiently and sensitively, in order to prevent further deterioration, this can save both the employee and the employer a great deal of heartache.
Occupational Health Services such as Kays, can then begin to offer the next level of support; by actioning an early referral if an employer is worried or has concerns over a worker’s well-being, rather than waiting for an individual to be signed off from work.
By prioritising and raising awareness about mental health, employers could see a massive transformation in retention and productivity.
Today is the time for organisations to assess their current approach to mental well-being and take action to improve where necessary.
It is the responsibility of employer’s to eradicate stigma surrounding mental ill health in the workplace through the creation of an open culture, and the introduction of support measures to safeguard employee wellbeing.
If you’d like to learn more about simple preventative measures and indicators for an employees mental health, contact a member of Occupational Health team today.