According to The World Health Organization (WHO), 15 per cent of working-age adults have a mental disorder at any given time. The specialist health agency also released guidelines on mental health at work, emphasising that whilst managing mental health at work comes with challenges, it should not be seen as ‘onerous’ – rather “an opportunity for growth and sustainable development”.
The COVID-19 pandemic heightened the risk factors generally associated with poor mental health. Many businesses initially struggled to adapt to a remote work environment, and for some employees, this meant blurred work-life boundaries and longer working hours. According to mental health charity Mind, the lasting effects of COVID-19 combined with the cost-of-living crisis is “taking its toll on the nation’s mental health”.
It’s crucial for organisations to address concerns and cultivate a supportive, mentally healthy and positive workplace, however, having a strong understanding of mental health issues is vital. Remember, every individual’s experience of poor mental health is different. Several employees with the same condition may have entirely different emotions, coping mechanisms and symptoms.
Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 15th to 21st May 2023, and this year’s theme focuses on the impact of the cost of living crisis on our mental health. Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems people face. While there are many ways to manage anxiety, reducing the stigma around mental health issues and promoting positive change is just as important. For businesses, taking steps to make changes at work can help with managing work-related anxiety. When an employee feels trusted and valued, they’ll likely be more productive. For GBS Corporate Training, Mental Health Awareness Week represents more than an important date in the diary; it’s an opportunity to increase people's awareness and understanding of anxiety and mental health issues. Below, we’ve detailed a few of our top tips to help organisations of all sizes improve employee mental health.
We touched on hybrid working environments and how the line between work and life has blurred in recent years. One way to support employee mental health is to implement specific policies that encourage work-life harmony. For example, you may introduce a "no emails after 5pm" policy to help employees disconnect from work and reduce their stress levels. Other approaches include flexible work arrangements, time off for mental health and employee assistance programs.
Employers can also incorporate mental health into the workday by offering mindfulness and meditation sessions, yoga classes or another form of wellness programme. These sessions can help employees manage stress, improve their mental health and increase their resilience.
Creating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is critical for promoting mental health. By promoting diversity, employers can ensure that all employees feel valued, respected, and included. This sense of belonging can help reduce stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues. In our recent blog, we detailed how inclusive practices and environments are not just about embracing people's differences but also harnessing the positive power that these differences can have within workplaces and teams.
Rather than seeing lunchtime as a quick opportunity to grab a bite to eat and get back to work, employers should encourage socialising and connection through lunch clubs or social events. These events can help employees build relationships, reduce stress, and improve their overall mental health. Additionally, colleagues will feel more connected and enjoy a sense of community within the workplace.
By investing in mental health training, employees will gain vital skills, such as recognising the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in themselves and others, equipping them with the tools and knowledge they need to respond appropriately. You could provide guidance on dealing with difficult conversations about mental health and how to access support and resources. Employers can also demonstrate they value the mental health of their employees, which can boost employee engagement, retention, and overall job satisfaction.
At GBS Corporate Training, we've seen an increase in enquiries from organisations seeking Resilience and Personal Wellbeing, and Mental Health First-Aid training programmes. If you’re looking to increase the mental health support available for your employees, please contact us today.