According to research undertaken by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1 in 7 people experience mental health problems in the workplace. 11% of full-time employed men have a common mental health problem, and in women that number is doubled.
Simple interventions I have encouraged my clients to implement are based around clear communication in your company and best practices that support those experiencing mental health issues. SMEs don’t have to put in place everything that a large company with a sizeable HR department would do. But it is very important to implement consistent mental health support, and just by doing this UK businesses could save up to £8 billion per year, according to Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health.
Here are my top tips enabling wellbeing in the workplace:
1. Look out for signs and be aware of mental health issues – time off, lethargy, change in working habits, change in ability to do work, complaints of aches and pains, lack of engagement and poor concentration and diet can all be pointing to mental health issues.
2. Before issues arise encourage a culture of using stress-management techniques, such as exercise and relaxation, flexible working and regular breaks along with teaching problem-solving skills. Check in with employees and encourage an open-door policy.
3. If you’re an SME you might not have the resources to have supervision or Occupational Health check-ups. But you can run a programme of back-to-work interviews that supports your employees’ return from absence.
4. Consider using to monitor and support absenteeism. Most SMEs don’t use this, but it can be very useful in making employers aware of any concerns.
5.evidence-based advice and time away from workers’ desks to attend seminars and workshops. Make a list of services that you can signpost your employees to, and support them if they need the time to seek help: Mind, Rethink and Saneline all have helplines that offer support and information. Elefriends.org.uk is an online community run by Mind. This could be made into a leaflet created for every employee’s induction and in the company handbook.
6.that encourages everyone to seek help honest in a supportive environment. Research has suggested that work colleagues see mental health as failure, and companies need to move away from this stigma.
Implementing just these can transform the work environment, both to reduce the risk of the effects of stress, anxiety and depression and support those who are experiencing mental health issues.