World Mental Health Day is a great way to raise awareness for those suffering from feelings of anxiety and depression, with celebrities, athletes and other people in the public eye revealing their struggles and difficulties.
Slowly, we’re lifting the stigma that comes with mental health and by talking about it openly and being kinder to people, we can ensure that mental health issues are discussed. But, it appears we still have a long way to go when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace.
It’s estimated that nine in 10 workers in the UK have been affected by mental ill-health, with two thirds report having had a personal experience and even more state that someone close to them has experienced mental ill-health. These are big numbers and demonstrate that more employees than you think could be feeling overwhelmed.
Research from Xero earlier this year found that almost a third (28 percent) of small business owners admit they are too busy to think about supporting mental health in the workplace and almost half (48 percent) believe that they could be doing more.
No matter what size your business is, it’s more likely to be performing at its best when everyone who works for you has a happy, healthy mind. Focusing on workplace wellbeing matters so much. That’s why clinical psychologist and Unmind co-founder, Dr Nick Taylor has created the buildings blocks of a proactive and preventative mental wellbeing strategy at work.
The way you position and talk about mental health is really important. Communicating it as something aspirational and relevant to everyone is crucial to reducing stigma and improving employee engagement within organisations.
Traditionally, the term ‘mental health’ has suffered from the perception that it is synonymous with mental ill-health – with struggling and hopelessness. But it is now widely acknowledged that mental health exists on a spectrum: on one end are individuals who are engaged and thriving, and on the other end those who may be struggling. Regardless, everyone sits on this spectrum somewhere.
Adapting terminology and tone can have a big impact. It can be as simple as using more inclusive terms like calmness, coping and happiness instead of just anxiety, stress and depression
With so much information out there it can be overwhelming and challenging to know where to start. So leaning on experts and other businesses for advice can really help. Speaking with the existing users of any initiatives you are considering, or those with subject expertise, can help ensure that the resources and support being provided to employees will ultimately benefit them and not lead to misinformation.
In both physical health and mental health, our ability to access the right care at the right time is critical to our future wellbeing. That’s why it’s so important to bridge the gap between preventative and reactive initiatives within the workplace – ensuring that employees can quickly access the relevant support at any given time.
And this isn’t all about you as a business having all the answers and resource, it might be providing access and signposting staff towards things like an EAP service 24 hours a day or giving them a list of charity helplines that might offer support.
Sharing stories and de-stigmatising the topic of mental health has a significant impact on awareness, perception and engagement. We, humans, love stories, and the ability to connect or empathise with someone else’s journey is very powerful.
Having a wellbeing champion will help play a significant part in communicating mental health initiatives or resources. It’s also important that communication around mental health and wellbeing doesn’t only happen around key dates like Mental Health Awareness Week as there needs to be an always-on approach to ensure people are continuously reminded of the support available to them.