Have you ever taken a “mental health” day at work? According to Heads Up, the equivalent of 1.1 million sick days are taken each year for mental health reasons, costing Australian businesses up to $6.1B.
It’s no surprise that businesses are now investing more in making workplaces that support mental health, and creating a mentally healthy workplace for their employees. Whether you’re a manager or peer, here are five tips on how you can contribute to establishing a healthier place to work.
Promote work life balance
Expecting staff to work long hours, or work from home in the evenings after a working day will actually diminish their productivity and negatively impact their mental health. As a manager, you may not expect your team to work long hours, but do you work extended hours yourself? Setting this example may be just as problematic.
Some staff may find it difficult to establish these boundaries. A manager focused on creating a mentally healthy workplace will assist them by setting clear expectations, delegating appropriate amounts of work with reasonable deadlines, and ensuring they unplug at the end of the day. Managers can also speak to staff proactively to encourage them to take their holiday leave.
See something, say something
If you’ve noticed that a colleague seems unusually quiet or low, find a suitable time to speak with them. Perhaps a quick coffee or lunch in the canteen will give them an opportunity to share any concerns or issues. Quite often all it takes is an empathetic ear and a simple open-ended questions such as “I’ve noticed you’ve been a bit quiet – how have you been?” to lessen the feeling of isolation that goes hand in hand with mental illness. Mental health training can give you the skills to have these conversations.
Reduce the stigma and focus on prioritising wellness
Make it a priority to speak about and provide resources on topics such as stress management, physical wellbeing and mental health. Some companies will offer healthy food or fitness groups and activities in the workplace to promote wellbeing. Even if these resources are not available, speaking openly about mental health may help some people feel more accepted and validated in the workplace.
Acknowledging and highlighting achievements, whether individual, team or organisational, are an important way of creating a psychologically safe workplace. Staff members will feel that they are valued and their work is appreciated which leads to the added benefit of increasing motivation and productivity.
Build mental health skills
There are many different ways to weave mental health into the workplace through training.
For example, providing coaching and mentoring training for managers will help them create positive, high-trust relationships with their teams, which in turn creates a psychologically safer environment. Resilience, stress management or change agility training can equip staff members to better deal with their day-to-day responsibilities. Investing in Mental Health First Aid training and introducing policies and procedures to support trained staff has also become a must-have addition to many businesses.
If you would like more information on creating a mentally healthy workplace, book in for mental health first aid training, or discuss training tailored to your workplace’s needs, please contact Kirsten on firstname.lastname@example.org