A survey found that 38% of British workers wouldn’t talk openly about a mental health problem at work for fear it would affect their job prospects or job security (Mental Health Foundation). This stat shows just how important it is for your company to demonstrate to your employees that mental health is high up on the agenda. These 7 simple steps will help you convey to your workforce and get them to trust, that you support mental health at work and that they would never be penalised for opening up about their mental health.
- Step 1: Make sure that you have equipped all of your managerial staff with the knowledge needed to support anyone experiencing mental health challenges. You could do this by holding an on-site training day for all managers to complete the MHFA Approved Mental Health First Aid course. We also hold open courses in Holborn, Central London, if you only have a small number of staff to train.
- Step 2: Hold an entire company meeting whereby the focus is mental health awareness and how your company supports it. This would be fantastic to record and upload to your intranet so all employees can access it at any time. Follow this up with regular information around mental health at work, this could be sent as newsletters.
- Step 3: Encourage members of staff from high up in the company such as the CEO, directing staff or senior managers to speak about how they, or someone close to them, experienced mental ill health. It would be excellent if they could also explain how they were supported and what coping techniques they found best. If colleagues feel empathy to higher management and know they really do understand mental health, they won’t be as afraid to talk about their own issues at work.
- Step 4: Implement processes that will help towards improving mental health at work. Examples could be organising yoga in your community space for one lunchtime a week, clearing outside space to make a nice lunch area to encourage employees to take their lunch break away from their screens or by joining initiatives like the ‘Headspace company program‘ to offer your employees access to meditation apps for free.
- Step 5: Organise a company fundraising event such as a fun run, bike ride or sports day and encourage employees to enter as teams. This will help increase how much your employees are exercising. It will also help employees to bond as teams and to feel good for raising money which will go to your chosen mental health charity.
- Step 6: Make it very clear that discrimination towards mental health is completely unacceptable and falls within the same category as discrimination against sex, race and orientation. Encourage mental health to be talked about positively in the workplace helping people to realise they are not alone and can help each other. Look into setting up peer to peer support and encourage those who are passionate about mental health to take the 1-day Mental Health Champion course; that way colleagues have an option to speak to them if they don’t feel comfortable going directly to their manager.
- Step 7: Conduct regular staff surveys about how your company deals with mental health at work (Google Forms is great for this). You could even allow the responses to be anonymous so you can ensure you will get honest answers that employees may not be comfortable saying personally.
We hope these ideas have given you some inspiration on how to promote mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. By following these steps, in addition to completing our mental health training courses, you should be well on the way to building trust and actually getting employee buy-in. If you would like to discuss any of this with us, we would be happy to help. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Facebook or Twitter, or ring us on 020 8445 8998.