Our mental health doesn’t always stay the same. It can fluctuate as circumstances change and as you move through different stages in our lives. Distress is a word used to describe times when a person isn’t coping – for whatever reason. It could be something at home, the pressure of work, or the start of a mental health problem like depression. Mental health problems can cause stress. Someone might find coping with the day-to-day symptoms of a mental health problem, as well as potentially needing to manage medication, healthcare appointments or treatments, can become extra sources of stress. Most people spend one-third or more of their waking time working. Gallup’s analytics and academic research show that there is a reciprocal relationship between work and life overall — that is, people take their work experience home and their home experience to work. Organizations demand a person’s full energy at work. It is in both the individual’s and the organization’s best interest for people to thrive in all aspects of their life. A lot of remote workers feel like they constantly need to be “visible” in their digital workspaces to “prove” that they are working. They feel they need to be present for every discussion in chat, or can’t let a notification go unanswered for more than a few minutes. This pressure adds unnecessary anxiety. Instead of being able to do their work, they are constantly worryying about how their contributions are perceived. To avoid the detrimental impact poor mental has on both employees and businesses, employers must take action to prevent mental health issues occurring, as well as providing support when they do. The reward for getting this right is a happier, healthier workforce, and a more successful, high-performing business. If you're worried about someone at work, asking them if they're okay, and showing you care, makes a huge difference.

Employer

By mental health I do not mean “mental ill health”. I mean the mental health we all have, just as we all have physical health. The World Health Organisation defines good mental health as “A state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work roductively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Good work consists of autonomy, fair pay, work life balance and opportunities for progression, and the absence of bullying and harassment. Good work can help prevent new mental health problems and support those with existing conditions to get on in work and thrive. We want all employers and employees to understand the benefits of good work, including those with mental health problems who may be off sick or out of work. All employers, regardless of workplace type, industry or size should adopt the mental health core standards. This will ensure ‘breadth’ of change across the UK workforce and lay the foundations for going further, and can be delivered proportionally depending on the size and type of business. Mental health is defined by the WHO, as a state of mental and psychological wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. Mental health is determined by a range of socioeconomic, biological and environmental factors. Communication that emphasizes that leadership cares about concepts such as employers duty of care mental health should be welcomed in the working environment.

Let’s Redefine Mental Health In The Workplace

Make sure your company provides employee mental health benefits and services — including everything from individual and couples counseling to group therapy. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), for instance, provide access to services that allow employees to reduce stress related to childcare, housecleaning and running errands. A whole organisation approach is about building the right culture and ensuring a mental health and wellbeing strategy is properly implemented. Attitudes should filter down from leaders and be backed up with clear policies that are well communicated. The earlier a manager becomes aware that a team member is experiencing mental ill health, the sooner steps can be taken to prevent it becoming more serious and provide support to help them during this period. It can be tempting to invest everything in building self-esteem around work success. That often means that people with mental health problems give everything at work and are high achievers. It also creates a risk that when things go wrong, when mistakes are made, or when change is necessary, people may take it personally. Every organization will have different needs around mental health and as long as employers and employees work together, they can come up with a unique solution that works for them. Discussing ideas such as workplace wellbeing support is good for the staff and the organisation as a whole.

Everyone’s experience of poor mental health is different – so two people with a diagnosis of depression may have very different symptoms and need different adjustments. This may seem complex, but often the person will be the expert on their condition and know their own support needs. In essence this means managing the person as an individual, in the same way that you flex your general management style. Problems with workload, support, or relationships with colleagues can worsen mental health and your employer has a duty to intervene. They may be able to review your work commitments or specific issues, but they can only do this if you let them know. People in lower paid jobs are more likely to experience poor working conditions, such as a lack of control of their workload, lack of job security, limited support and exposure to physical hazards. Consequently, improvements in the quality of work and working conditions may help to reduce health inequalities. Time to Change is England’s biggest programme to end stigma and discrimination faced by people with mental health problems. The programme is run by the charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness. It aims to empower people to challenge stigma and speak openly about their own mental health experiences, as well as changing the attitudes and behaviours of the wider public. Feeling emotionally drained or stressed at work is directly correlated to distractions in the work environment, lost productivity, and uncertainty about the future. But failing to manage this stress properly can result in total burnout or lead to serious mental health issues like depression and anxiety. And that’s only half the equation. These mental health issues can cause physical problems, like high blood pressure and chronic diseases. For employers not investing in wellbeing initiatives, managing employees with mental health issues can be a difficult notion to comprehend.

A Culture Of Open Dialogue

All employers can and should encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling, during the recruitment process and at regular intervals throughout employment, offer appropriate workplace adjustments to employees who require them. Evidence suggests that early intervention and prevention can have overall health and financial benefits. Employing positive mental health strategies, for example, can decrease health care claims and reduce morbidity by alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. Mental health symptoms are just as common in the C-Suite as among individual contributors. Sharing your own mental health challenges and modeling healthy behavior are two of the most important steps business leaders can take. Every organisation is different, however there are many steps, most of them free, that can improve mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. The key is to be adaptable, flexible, and experiment with different ideas until you find a tailored strategy that can evolve as your staff and organisation change too. Your company isn’t the product you make, your intellectual property, your patents, or even the customers you serve. First and foremost, your company is your people. (Literally. The word “company” comes from the military, and simply refers to a body of soldiers.) Similarly to any change that happens within organizations, discussions around how to manage an employee with anxiety need planning and implementing properly.

When having mental health conversations with team members at work, don’t assume mental illness or stress means they can’t do their job. Evidence-based mental health promotion and prevention programs are sound investments. Promotion and prevention programs, for example, can mitigate rates at which individuals develop symptoms and mental health disorders. The economic benefit of mental health promotion also includes lowered use of health care and reduced morbidity and mortality. Mental health becomes even more important in an era of constant change. As businesses undertake broader transformation initiatives, an employee’s wellbeing, including how valued they feel, is critical in helping achieve an organization’s broader change objectives. Mental health matters, but the world has a long way to go to achieve it. Many unfortunate trends must be reversed-neglect of mental health services and care, and abuses of human rights and discrimination against people with mental disorders and psychosocial disabilities. Many companies implement stress management programs — and that’s a good start. However, using surveys to improve mental health at work builds morale and shows that leadership cares. Even though it may not be easy to become an employee-centric company addressing workplace wellbeing ideas it is of utmost importance in this day and age.

Psychological Protection

Engagement between employer and employee cannot happen without good mental health – research shows that when staff wellbeing is not supported, employee engagement declines, motivation and performance levels drop and staff retention is affected. But a recent survey highlighted that if employers take steps to support employee mental wellbeing, this would have a positive impact on levels of staff motivation and loyalty. Experts advise us to get up and walk away from the computer to relieve tension. Instead of sending an email or message, speak with a teammate in person. Working alone might exacerbate mental anxiety. Relationships boost our sensations of sociability and support. Emotional health can be a sensitive topic. Employees may be reluctant to share their struggles, as they may be concerned their supervisors will see them as weak, unstable, or incapable. Instead, they may cope by disengaging, doing only the bare minimum and interacting with coworkers and managers as little as possible. You can find further info about Employer's Mental Health Programs in this Health and Safety Executive entry.

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