World Mental Health Day is observed annually around the globe on 10 October. Since 1992, the global community has united on this day to raise awareness and reduce the stigma that surrounds people with mental health problems. This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Make mental health & wellbeing a global priority for all’.
Workplace mental health is an extremely important area to discuss as an employee and/or employer. Mental health issues can affect one in four people at some point in their lives and have a significant impact on employee wellbeing.
Workplaces that are open and inclusive around mental health and have invested in awareness and skills training to manage mental health, are better at creating an environment where employees feel safe to talk about the pressures they are feeling.
The term ‘stress’ means something different for each of us. Having a trusted colleague or manager available for a confidential and non-judgemental conversation enables us to talk about what is on our mind. If that individual is also trained to ask open and reflective questions, then often a conversation is enough. The power of this conversation can be strengthened if this is backed up with signposting for relevant and timely support, including employee assistance programmes.
Even on the best days, stress can prevent us from being fully focused and doing our best work. Too much of it can lead to burnout, disengagement, more sick days, and strained relationships in the workplace.
Having conversations, particularly with line managers, about mental health can help to manage employee mental health and wellbeing at work.
A structured conversation, built around a wellness action plan, which asks open questions around how the person can stay well at work, can help both the manager and employee to agree what works for an individual and how this can be accommodated within each role and workplace.
Scheduling regular check-ins and encouraging thoughtful discussion is critical to establishing the trust and communication vital to positive workplace culture. This can be a fine line for managers to walk, but with proper training, they can be shown the benefits of simply getting to know their employees on an individual level and watching for signs of change that could prompt discussion. Not to mention, proactively welcoming employees to discuss mental health topics breaks down the stigma associated with them.
With managers learning more and understanding their employees better, they can open lines of communication that bring unknown issues into the light, and by doing so, find solutions while building trust and loyalty.
It is vital that mental health is made a global priority for all.