Supporting employees to help manage mental health and wellbeing
This week is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, so we wanted to show our support by providing some useful guidance on how organisations can create a positive working environment that supports employees’ wellbeing.
One in four adults will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lifetime and this can have a serious impact upon an individual’s personal and work life. More than ever, mental health is a topic of discussion amidst the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The World Health Organisation experts have predicted that the isolation, fear, uncertainty and economic turmoil resulting from COVID-19, will cause a spike in the severity of mental illness and highlights the need for businesses to establish a positive wellbeing culture.
Numerous studies have concluded that when employers invest in their employees’ health as part of a broader wellbeing strategy, it can lead to higher productivity levels and an overall happier workforce. Below we discuss mental health and the measures organisations should consider putting into place to support employees.
What is mental health?
Mental health refers to a person’s psychological, cognitive, behavioural and emotional wellbeing. Mental health conditions are often unseen but can have a serious impact upon an individual’s wellbeing, in some cases for a prolonged period. Examples of mental health conditions include anxiety; panic attacks; bipolar disorder; depression; obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); personality disorders; post-natal depression; post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); and stress.
What measures can I put in place to support my employees’ mental wellbeing?
Employers should develop a wellbeing policy to promote and formalise actions the organisation is taking to establish a positive wellbeing culture within the workplace.
4 key objectives of a wellbeing policy are to:
1. Manage mental health conditions at work.
Employees should be provided with support whilst at work or returning from a period of absence. Systems and procedures should assist with developing positive coping behaviours that can aid recovery and help to manage long-term conditions. Examples include training all staff on mental health issues and providing flexible working hours.
2. Risk assess and prevent work-related stress.
Organisations have a legal duty to protect their employees from stress at work by undertaking an appropriate risk assessment and acting upon it. Risk assessments to be reviewed at least annually and/or whenever there is reason to believe that it is no longer valid.
3. Identify those experiencing problems and provide support.
Individuals often exhibit warning signs when they are struggling to cope, and all staff should be trained to recognise these to aid early identification of an issue. These signs can be categorised as behavioural, work performance and physical signs and include uncharacteristic behaviour, declining or inconsistent performance and nervousness.
4. Promote healthy living.
A healthy lifestyle includes participating in regular moderate physical activity, getting a good night’s sleep, eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining a healthy body weight. Employers can support this by sharing healthy recipes or encouraging staff to partake in outdoor exercise or virtual classes.
The excerpt above is taken from our comprehensive Wellbeing guidance available via RMworks designed to help organisations to minimise risk and reduce cost.
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