We’ve all had stressful days in the office, but when you’re faced with a toxic work environment and an impossible to-do list on a daily basis, it can have a profoundly negative impact on your mental health.

This year’s World Mental Health Day is all about tackling the issue of mental health in the workplace.

The aim of the day is to highlight a need for changes in the way our nation’s workplaces deal with issues such as stress, anxiety and mental illness.

It’s estimated that 1 in 4 of us will struggle with a mental health issue at some point, and yet many people are still too scared to speak to their employers about their concerns for fear of being viewed as weak or incapable.

 

A recent study by DPG plc found that a worrying 85 per cent of people thought there was a stigma attached to mental health issues and stress in the workplace, with a further 58 per cent admitting that they wouldn’t be comfortable telling their manager if they were suffering in silence.

Clearly, something needs to change.

Fostering a mentally healthy workplace is the first step, so it’s vital that managers are equipped with the skills they need to support their staff.

few tips that employers can utilize to help move towards a more openly supportive workplace culture.

  1. Build the trust and rapport between yourself and your team

Without trust, and without the social bond that makes trust possible, it can be hard to share weekend plans with managers, let alone serious health issues. Whilst a manager’s role is to ensure the delivery of a process, service or similar, it is also their responsibility to motivate and inspire staff. Getting the most from staff members isn’t simply about working them hard.

  1. Train to rehearse what to say, when to step in, and how to support individuals

Appropriate training and feeling equipped to deal with serious health issues can be a daunting prospect even for seasoned managers. Specialised training is available and is a valuable tool in the manager’s repertoire, not only for helping to mitigate issues but also for noticing them, and approaching them with tact.

(Shutterstock / SeventyFour)

  1. Get training and support from HR and leadership teams

Training needs to be made available for managers. HR and leadership teams need to take the initiative and responsibility to implement this, however.

  1. Be human in your response mental health inhuman response

This ensures that the worker is allowed to feel human despite their issue. Many sufferers of stress, anxiety or mental health issues feel that they are in some way flawed or different to the rest of society, so it’s imperative they are helped to feel normal, and that it is ‘okay to not be okay’. Expanding the point, Tom Oxley said “managers with personal or lived experience of mental ill health tend to be better equipped with the language around mental health”.

  1. Be empowered to make adjustments

Helping the employee deal with their workload and focus on getting better can have a great effect on making them feel supported and relieving pressure. Setting more appropriate working hours and targets is a great place to start. However, genuinely being able to make these adjustments is crucial – particularly without drawing too much attention or encountering red tape.

  1. Looking forward

This year’s World Mental Health Day is set to cast mental health in the workplace into sharp focus. Hopefully, with this comes serious change. We believe that the majority of workplaces across the nation are becoming more accepting, supportive places to work but that, whilst they have come a long way, there’s still work to be done.

 

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