Five tips for supporting mental health in the workplace

Over the last few decades, mental health has gained increasing traction for its importance alongside physical health in contributing to an individual’s wellbeing. It is a complex subject, but with the work of organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation, awareness is increasing and stigma is fading.

According to the Centre for Mental Health, mental health problems at work cost the UK economy £34.9bn last year: that averages at £1,300 for every employee in the UK economy.

Providing adequate provision to support employee mental health has profound benefits for a business in terms of employee morale, staff loyalty, productivity and institutional reputation. It is worthwhile having a robust mental health policy to promote staff wellbeing in the workplace.

So where do employers begin?
Corinne Curtis, Senior HR Consultant at HR Services Partnership, delivers bespoke training on managing mental health in the workplace to charities and voluntary organisations, and offered the following advice: “Overall, it comes down to education and increasing awareness and understanding of mental health and wellbeing. There are many ways an organisation can do this but here are five suggestions for promoting wellbeing that employers should consider.”

  1. Open culture: Create an environment where people feel able to discuss mental wellbeing and have conversations without feeling judged. The more discussions there are about wellbeing, the more comfortable people may feel about it. Asking about wellbeing in one-to-ones and having effective return-to-work discussions can help this.  A wellbeing policy can set out the employer’s commitment to supporting mental health and wellbeing.
  2. Healthy working practices: Consider practices to promote wellness. For example, encourage annual leave and lunch breaks to be taken, avoid a ‘long hours’ culture and out-of-hours emails, and regularly review workloads. 
  3. Teams: Encourage positive teamwork and team dynamics with managers who have the right skills to support their team, including with wellbeing discussions. We also recommend dealing with conflict early before it escalates.
  4. Work-life balance: Are there different ways of working and flexibility that can help your employees manage their wellbeing and their work/personal commitments? Check out our tips on improving the work-life balance in your company.
  5. Mental health first aiders: You most likely have a physical first aider, but what about appointing a mental health first aider? It is important to equip your managers with the right skills to support individuals’ mental health at work. In addition, providing a go-to staff member helps to develop an open culture and opens up a development opportunity for the colleague who is trained to provide this support.

HR Services Partnership runs regular workshops to train not-for-profit organisations about HR-related issues including managing mental health in the workplace. Get in touch if you would like an informal discussion.