Good Mental Health & Wellbeing – A Core Business Asset

Mental Health Awareness Week 14th – 20th May – This year the focus is on Stress.  Work is a key factor is supporting and maintaining good mental health.  The value added to the economy of people who are at work and have or have experienced mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP (source: Mental Health Foundation).

You can see why it’s essential to value mental health and wellbeing as core business assets and support the development of compassionate and effective line management.

Why Talking about it is difficult

Awareness of mental health is increasing but there is still a stigma surrounding the workplace where people fear they will face discrimination if they talk about it. The decision to disclose a mental health concern is not one taken lightly. Any employee suffering from a mental health issue would need to feel safe and supported in order to do so.  This involves challenging your workplace culture, leading from the top and encouraging staff to reach out for help when they need it.

Find Time to Have a Chat

It all starts with communication. Asking someone how they are doing in a warm and open way provides an opportunity for them to see that you are being sincere and offering friendly support.

Find a time and place that is most comfortable for the person you are talking to.  Make sure you have no other distractions and you have a least 10 minutes clear to give your full attention.

Active listening is key to every relationship.  Maintain good eye contact, and relax your body language (open arms with your body slightly turned towards the person you are listening to).

Do not make assumptions.

Acknowledge what’s being said with nods and gestures and repeat what’s being said to check if you have got it right.

Recap the conversation and agree outcomes/follow up action and make sure you carry them out.

Have helpline numbers or website addresses to hand over straight away.  Here are some useful resources:

Most people who suffer from an episode of mental health problems recover well if they have the right people and support in their lives.

Line Manager Responsibilities

As a Manager, you play a crucial role in supporting any of your staff experiencing stress or other mental health problems. By being the official contact between the Employer and the Employee you can set the tone and lead by example.

You are responsible for managing and administering absences due to mental health related problems.  Early intervention will make it easier for a safe and quick return to work. The longer the absence, the harder the return to work is for the employee.  Small businesses can benefit from the Government’s Fit for Work Programme. https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/fit-for-work-guidance

Performance Management and Appraisals

Implementing regular team meetings and one-to-one sessions between managers and their staff is proven to improve staff engagement and is good for the mental health and wellbeing of employees.

Address any signs of discrimination and create a culture within the workplace which supports open disclosure.

Carry out regular appraisals and pulse surveys.  Use the findings to plan, implement or improve workplace policies.

Remember, if you are dealing with an employee with a mental health issue, they may find career development and appraisals challenging.  It is important therefore, that you are honest when assessing their performance.

Agree in advance how to handle any continuing problems going forward.  Identification of factors and triggers which could result in a recurrence of illness is key.  Once realised, agreement can be reached on how best to respond in a crisis and what adjustments can be made if necessary on a more permanent basis.

Explore setting up peer support and mentoring programmes for staff who have lived experience of mental health problems.

Encourage staff to report any discrimination or harassment they face and have a whistleblowing policy in place.

For a demonstration of our on line anonymous reporting platform or information on carrying out Appraisals, WorkinConfidence have the experience and the solutions to support your organisation.