Mental health is a subject that’s long been misunderstood. As a society, we’ve tended to focus on the more severe examples of mental health problems: those that result in people being diagnosed with a condition and receiving professional help. The truth is, however, that mental health isn’t all too different from physical health in that it’s something we all struggle with from time to time.

Recognising that a person’s mental health affects their professional life as much as it does their personal life, many companies have made safeguarding their staff’s mental health a priority. To help you do the same within your company, this post explores ways of promoting better mental health in the workplace.

Why is it important to promote better mental health in the workplace? 

First and foremost, promoting better mental health in the workplace helps to destigmatise it. By raising awareness, you’re educating your employees and correcting many of their misconceptions surrounding mental health. They’ll learn that these problems come in many forms, as opposed to a fixed range of labelled conditions, and that they can affect anyone. 

Secondly, it allows you to better support employees that presently struggle with their mental health. By having more empathy for what they’re going through, they’ll feel more understood and are more likely to open up about struggles. This then gives you the opportunity to discover how you can better accommodate them at work so they find it easier to maintain their mental health.  

Finally, a company that encourages employees to look after their mental health, and that provides the means for them to do so, is a happier, more positive place to work. You’re likely to have fewer sickness absences as staff are less likely to burn out. Better yet, you’ll also have a lower rate of staff turnover as your employees will be more reluctant to leave a company that takes care of them and makes them feel valued. 

Ways of promoting better mental health at work

To cap off this post, here are some suggestions for how to promote mental health within your company. 

  • Encourage your employees to talk about their struggles
    • The more you know about how your employees are coping, the better position you’re in to support them. The simplest way to achieve this is to frequently ask them how they are and then listen to them without judgement. Even if an employee isn’t willing to divulge how they’re feeling, they’ll appreciate that you showed concern. 
  • Enlist the help of an expert
    • Bring in an expert on mental health to deliver a talk or lead a training session. Additionally, going forward, add mental health to your equality and diversity awareness when onboarding new employees. 
  • Promote physical health
    • In many cases, a person’s physical and mental wellbeing go hand-in-hand, so it’s a good idea to emphasise the importance of regular exercise and proper diet. This could extend to subsidising your staff’s gym memberships or striking up a deal with local restaurants and cafes that prepare healthy food.   
  • Adopt flexible working practices
    • If you don’t do so already, institute flexible working practices, such as allowing people to work from home. This provides your staff with a valid alternative to calling in sick.
  • Promote a healthy work/life balance
    • This includes encouraging staff to take use their entire annual leave allowance, leaving their desk for lunch breaks, and going home at a reasonable time. 
  • Create mental health champions
    • A mental health champion is an employee who takes action to raise awareness of mental health problems. This could include organising and distributing educational resources related to mental health or even providing peer support to their colleagues. 

Your champions could be employees who have experience with mental health issues, whether its their own or someone close to them, or could simply be those that are passionate the subject and want to help.  However, it’s crucial for the company to get behind your champions, by providing any training and resources that they might need. 

ScheduleLeave is absence management software that allows you track annual leave, staff sickness, and so much more. It can help you identify staff that aren’t taking enough time off, and could be on the verge of burning out, or those frequently call in sick, and could need further support. Find out what it can do for your company with a free trial