How can we encourage mental health transparency in the workplace?.
A new study published to coincide with this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week has found 35% of UK employees rang in sick because of poor mental health, but gave a different reason to their employer. With the focus for this Mental Health Awareness Week on anxiety, the findings from the study are particularly applicable as anxiety is one of the most common forms of poor mental wellbeing in the UK. This year I want to take the opportunity to share key strategies that encourage openness and transparency around mental health in the workplace.
Around one in ten people are diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder in the UK, and many more struggle daily with anxiety symptoms. The NHS explains anxiety as “a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Some people find it hard to control their worries. Their feelings of anxiety are more constant and can often affect their daily lives.” It’s important to be aware when feelings of anxiety arise, so they don’t negatively impact our personal or professional lives, and we can reach out for support. So, how can managers encourage transparency in the workplace, enabling employees to feel supported and able to reach out when they need support the most?
Encouraging mental health transparency in the workplace.
Encouraging transparency around poor mental health in the workplace is crucial for creating a supportive and inclusive environment. Here are several strategies we focus on at The Recruitment Co., that employers and managers can implement to promote transparency.
Encourage open conversations
Create a culture where mental health discussions are welcomed and normalised. Encourage open dialogue by providing opportunities for employees to share their experiences and concerns without fear of judgement or stigma.
Organise awareness campaigns and workshops to educate employees about mental wellbeing issues, symptoms, and available resources. This can help reduce misconceptions and increase understanding, making it easier for individuals to discuss their experiences openly.
Lead by Example
Leaders and managers should openly discuss their own experiences and challenges. Sharing personal stories demonstrates vulnerability and helps break down barriers, encouraging employees to feel more comfortable discussing their own struggles.
Offer mental health training to equip colleagues with the skills to identify signs of distress, provide appropriate support, and refer employees to relevant resources. Training should also emphasise confidentiality and the importance of handling mental health disclosures with sensitivity.
Implement Supportive Policies
Develop policies that explicitly address mental wellbeing in the workplace, including accommodations for employees who may need additional support. This can include flexible work hours, remote work options, and access to counselling services or employee assistance programs.
Communicate Available Resources
Ensure that employees are aware of the mental health resources and support services available to them. Share information about counselling services, employee assistance programs, and helplines through various communication channels like newsletters or internal microsite portals.
Foster Work-Life Balance
Encourage work-life balance by promoting realistic workloads, encouraging breaks, and discouraging a culture of overworking. Encouraging employees to prioritise self-care and maintain a healthy work-life balance contributes to better mental health.
Regularly assess the impact of mental wellbeing initiatives and programs through surveys, focus groups, or anonymous feedback to gauge employee satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
Nuffield Health has extended its ‘Find 5’ campaign to encourage individuals to find five minutes for their mental and physical wellbeing as part of this Mental Health Awareness Week. The #Find5 campaign is designed to help people proactively look after their wellbeing and develop healthy habits. Employers and managers can take this campaign onboard and encourage employees to take time for their mental wellbeing throughout the working day.
Remember, creating an environment of transparency around mental health requires ongoing commitment and effort. By implementing these strategies, employers can encourage employees to feel safe, supported, and empowered to discuss and seek help for their mental wellbeing concerns.
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