We know that mental health is just as important as physical health, and paying attention to wellbeing, and supporting others to do the same, allows us to live full and happy lives, and to reach our full potential at work.
Whilst it is encouraging that we are becoming more and more aware of the importance of good mental health, historically there has been a lot of stigma attached to poor mental health. Campaigns around Mental Health Awareness Week and World Mental Health Day (which falls in October each year) have helped raise awareness.
Avoiding important conversations around mental health can prevent people from getting the vital support they need. Employers know the impact that poor mental health has on their employees and, in turn, their wellbeing and overall productivity.
So what can employers do to help?
Whilst we always advise providing your employees with good working conditions, this should include routinely monitoring staff mental health and wellbeing, developing mental health awareness and encouraging open conversations about mental health support. The past year and the increase in home working has highlighted the need to also ensure a healthy work-life balance, whether working from home or back in the workplace.
Another way in which employers can support their workforce when it comes to mental health is by introducing Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs).
MHFAs are taught how to spot the symptoms of mental ill-health and provide help on a first aid basis. If you are considering introducing MHFAs into your workforce, do make sure that you select a recognised training provider, who can prepare your MHFAs properly with thorough and up to date courses.
Employers have responsibilities to their workforce and are liable for the actions of employees in certain circumstances. It is, therefore, important to set clear boundaries and guidelines for MHFAs within your organisation. Consider whether you need to check your company’s insurance policies, as you may need to let them know you have MHFAs in place.
The implementation of MHFAs has proven to positively impact a business in a wide variety of ways including helping to reduce sickness absence and staff turnover, reduce presenteeism and decrease the likelihood of grievance and discrimination claims.
What about me – how can I help myself?
As an employer or business owner, it is likely that you receive regular emails, invites to webinars and reminders of how important it is to look after your own mental health.
There is no harm in another reminder, especially as research carried out by Mind with over 16,000 people, has shown that more than half of adults (60%) and over two-thirds of young people (68%) have said their mental health got worse during the lockdown.
The NHS list five steps to mental wellbeing:
- Connect with other people
- Be physically active
- Learn new skills
- Give to others
- Pay attention to the present moment (mindfulness)
There are many ways to improve your own mental health. If one technique doesn’t work for you, then move on and try something else.
Need further advice?
If you would like advice and assistance about the role of MHFAs, your obligations towards employees who are experiencing mental health issues, or help in dealing with mental health-related absence, performance or capability issues, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin Barnett or any other member of the Employment Team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org