Importance of Mental Health in the Workplace
The topic of mental health used to be a conversation that would often be avoided or not taken seriously enough, a practice that became commonplace in workplaces, schools and socialising, among others.
However in recent years, especially with the outbreak of Covid-19, talking about mental health has become a much more important concept and is slowly becoming a topic that is less stigmatised.
The Role of Employers
As an employer, heightening your awareness about how people are feeling not just physically, but mentally, is paramount. This shouldn’t be strictly confined to outside the workplace but integrated into health, safety and welfare practices and policies in the workplace.
People can often struggle with mental health outside of work which can cause a strain on their performance and motivation within the workplace. This makes it essential for employers to support their employees wherever they can to help them feel supported by their colleagues.
Employees are a significant factor in the success or failure of a business. In this respect, it is necessary to look after employees on an emotional level in the workplace as negative experiences can cause mental health issues such as depression and anxiety which can also manifest themselves into physical health problems in workers.
Developing guidelines and practices to support your staff should be considered as ethically, it is the right thing to do to improve the working lives of all employees. Additionally, where your business is heavily focused on human resources, making sure that your employees are fit and well enough physically and mentally will allow the business to maximise overall efficiency and productivity.
As an employer or business owner, being aware of workplace practices that may be contributing to negative emotions and feelings by employees will be useful in adapting the workplace to be more mental health-friendly.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the risks a workplace can pose to the mental well-being of its employees some of which include;
- Inflexible working hours
- Low levels of support
- Poor communication with management
- Lack of responsibility, decision-making and involvement
With this in mind, the WHO has also noted some of the initiatives and positive changes an employer can make to help their employees feel better at work, alleviate any negative feelings and create a greater level of motivation and productivity among staff;
- Analysing the workplace environment and implementing new practices
- Providing support to staff and informing them of the availability of such supports
- Rewarding employees for their efforts
- Developing workplace policies and guidelines in support of Mental Health
The Role of Employees
As an employee, it is vital to be feeling supported by your colleagues and management in the workplace. Having an awareness of how you are feeling can also help you to take some positive steps and changes towards improving your mental health inside and outside of work.
There are many steps you can take as an employee to ensure that you are looking after your mental health in the workplace, some of which include:
- Being open with your management and/or supervisors about how you are feeling
- Awareness of negative practices or activities in the workplace
- Reporting bullying or harassment impacting yourself or others
- Asking for support
It is also useful to you as an employee to look after your mental health outside the workplace as this will help to improve your mindset and increase your productivity, efficiency and positivity each day. With this in mind, here are some great actions to take to support yourself outside of work:
- Taking time to do an activity you enjoy
- Eat well
- Talk to friends and family
- Spend time on mindfulness
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