It is paramount to recognise the importance of mental health in the workplace and to implement strategies that support employee wellbeing.
In this article, we explore why prioritising mental health is critical to a productive workforce and discuss practical ways to incorporate mental health initiatives into everyday work life.
mental health in the workplace
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines mental health as a state of mental wellbeing that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realise their abilities, learn well, work well and contribute to their community. Fluctuations in mental health during our lives is normal, and recovery from mental ill health is more likely when people receive the right help at the right time.
Employee wellbeing: A focus on mental health in the workplace demonstrates that organisations care about the holistic wellbeing of its employees. When employees feel supported and valued, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated, and loyal to their company or organisation.
Performance and productivity: Research has consistently shown that employees who are mentally healthy are more productive and perform better at work. By prioritising mental health, overall performance is enhanced and businesses more successful.
Retention and recruitment: In today's competitive job market, employees are seeking workplaces that prioritise their health and wellbeing. By fostering a mentally healthy work environment, businesses can attract top talent and retain valuable employees in the long term.
Legal and ethical obligations: Employers have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. Neglecting issues related to mental health in the workplace can lead to legal liabilities and damage to an organisation's reputation.
A survey of businesses by the professional services firm PwC for The Times Health Commission found that two in five companies had seen an increase in employees taking long-term sick leave because of mental ill health. (March 2023)
5 ways to improve mental health in the workplace
- Promote open communication: Encourage open and honest communication about mental health amongst your teams and within the organisation as a whole. Provide resources such as Wellbeing Ambassadors, as they provide a safe space for employees to talk, seek help and if required be referred to medical professionals. Employee assistance programs (EAPs) are also good for employees to get confidential advice and guidance.
- Implement mental health workshops and training: Workshops and training are an effective way to educate managers and employees about mental health awareness, stigma reduction, and strategies for self-care. Equip your team with the knowledge and skills they need to recognise and respond to mental health challenges effectively.
- Flexible work arrangements: Recognise that employees have diverse needs and responsibilities outside of work. Consider offering flexible work arrangements such as remote work options, flexible hours, or compressed working weeks to accommodate individual preferences and promote a better work-life balance.
- Foster a supportive company culture: Cultivate a workplace culture that values empathy, compassion, and mutual support. Encourage teamwork, collaboration, and recognition of individual contributions. Create opportunities for social connection and team bonding to strengthen relationships and foster a sense of belonging.
- Lead by example: Managers, HR professionals and Wellbeing Champions or Ambassadors should lead by example by prioritising their own mental health and wellbeing. Demonstrate healthy work habits, set boundaries, and encourage self-care practices among team members. Actions speak louder than words and can inspire others to take good care of their mental health.
We never tell someone with a broken leg to stop wallowing and get it together... we shouldn't treat mental health conditions any differently.
PRIORITISING mental health in the workplace IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO
In conclusion, prioritising mental health in the workplace is not only the right thing to do; it's also essential for the success and sustainability of a thriving business. By investing in mental health initiatives and creating a supportive work environment, employee wellbeing can be enhanced which in turn will improve performance and productivity, and foster a culture of care and compassion. Companies have the power to make a positive impact on the lives of their employees and the overall health of their organisation. Let's work together to ensure we focus on mental health in the workplace and build brighter, healthier futures for everyone.
Resilience and Mental Fitness Workshop and Webinar
Building workplace resilience and mental fitness is not only about overcoming challenges but also about fostering an environment where employees can thrive and grow.
References and further reading