It’s no secret that mental health concerns have been around for a long time. Before Covid, the Mental Health Foundation reported that one in every 6 adults has or has had a common mental disorder. In addition, pre-covid, mixed anxiety and depression was estimated to cause one-fifth of workdays lost in Britain. Certainly, mental health is something that affects many, if not all of us at some point in our lives. That being said, mental health is still somewhat of a stigmatised topic within the UK.
So, how can we create a positive mental health culture? First, do we need to break the stigma? And what can we do to support our employees?
Considering pre-covid statistics, and the impact of Coronavirus, we dread to think about what current statistics will show. Since mental health disorders are so common, it really shouldn’t be so stigmatised to talk about it and yet it is. Of course, talking about mental health is improving, but this really depends on the company culture. How can we continue to improve this, both as a manager and as an employee?
Buy-in from key stakeholders or key influencers such as the CEO will undoubtedly help. Ask them to take part in promoting wellbeing by being open about their own mental health and what they do to relieve stress. You can extend this to other leaders in the organisation, such as team leaders or departmental managers. Certainly, the more people who model good behaviors, the better.
We recommend having rolling agenda items about how people are feeling. By being open and actively encouraging conversations around mental health, you can start to break the stigma some people have. Outside of this, it would be good to set up a safe escalation route outside of the line manager. Perhaps by setting up dedicated Mental Health First Aiders, trained individuals who can identify, understand and help common mental health issues. Thereby, providing opportunities for employees to safely discuss their wellbeing.
For more ideas on how you can help encourage wellbeing as a manager, why not download our infographic: 10 Tips for Managers to Encourage Wellbeing.
Whilst creating a positive culture is important, it’s even more important to have proactive plans in place to identify and support those suffering from poor mental health. In our previous blog, the Employee Energy Drain, we discuss how to identify warning signs as any deviation from your employee’s norm. These warning signs can range from lack of or over-enthusiasm to working long or unusual hours. Perhaps even complaints about experiencing migraines, truthfully these signs display differently depending on the person. Above all, the key here is to know your people. Some listening mechanisms can help with this via pulse surveys, but predominately, talking to your employees is crucial.
You can recommend good behaviours and coping mechanisms, perhaps by using our 11 tips to enhance your wellbeing, but sometimes the most important thing you can do is to have empathy. It’s unrealistic to believe you can solve all your employee’s problems, even if you wanted to. For example, if your employee is experiencing stress due to concern over a family member’s health, there is nothing you can do to help besides listen. Whilst this may not seem like much, listening and empathising can be as much of a lifesaver as anything else. Therefore, our rule of thumb is to help where you can, empathise where you can’t.
As many of us will be returning to work or some hybrid work set-up over the coming months, it is going to be vital for us all to focus on our own resilience as well as the wellbeing of our team. That is why we have just launched a new e-learning module to support Managers with their teams to deal with these challenges. For more information, click on the banner below.