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Managing Employee Mental Health: A Practical Guide
Time to read: 3 mins
Mental health is a significant issue that affects many Australians every year. In fact, 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives.
Mental health is our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Our mental health has a significant impact on how we think, feel, and act. It also plays a role in determining our stress responses, interpersonal connections, and dietary preferences.
When it comes to the workplace environment, mental health problems can affect every employee in your organisation, but they’re especially common among people who work in high-pressure environments.
The good news is that there are things you can do as a manager or company leader to help employees stay happy and healthy at work. In this guide, we’ll show you some simple ways to keep your workforce mentally well.
On Men’s Mental Health
Did you know that:
- Men commit suicide 3 times more often than women.
- Men are less likely to seek out psychological help than women.
- Around 6 out of 10 males have experienced trauma.
Men’s mental health still holds a lot of stigma and shame primarily due to the cultural concept of the meaning of “manliness” which glorifies stoicism, strength and dominance, to such an extent that it creates an expectation that is restrictive and harmful to mental health.
The truth is there is strength and leadership in addressing life challenges, resolving issues, and seeking support when teamwork will achieve the same outcome, both personally and professionally.
As a community, we should be creating a world of equity where men (and women) who may be struggling can come forward and seek support.
On Women’s Mental Health
Mental health research also shows mental health varies for men and women, with women experiencing higher levels of anxiety and depression due to differing genetic and biological factors.
Did you know that:
- Approximately 1 in every 5 women struggle with a common mental health issue.
- Eating disorders are 10 times higher in women than men.
- Violence makes women 3-4 times more at risk of depression.
As women’s roles have changed, with increased participation in the labour force, changes in domestic labour and child-care patterns, as well as an increase in female-led single-parent families, women’s mental health has been impacted.
Women should be encouraged to prioritize their physical and mental health, seeking support when faced with challenges causing symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Ways to Manage Mental Health in the Workplace
A number of employment circumstances may contribute to or amplify stress, increasing the risk of mental health issues. It is important to keep an eye out for indicators that stress at work is becoming too much to bear.
Research suggests that businesses with high levels of mental wellness are more productive, and this suggests that competent management is a key component of promoting mental health in the workplace.
Here are some things you can do to keep an eye in the mental wellbeing on your workplace:
1. Establish a culture of acceptance
It’s important to create a culture of acceptance where employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health and are willing to seek help if they are struggling. This starts with leaders encouraging their teams to be open about how they’re feeling and sharing times of struggle or when they are under significant pressure, asking for support from other team members.
2. Encourage employees to be vocal about mental health
Mental health can be a sensitive topic, but it’s important that your employees feel comfortable talking with you or another colleague if they are experiencing mental health difficulties.
Encourage them to raise the topic of their own accord, and then listen carefully and respond sensitively when they do so.
3. Build a connection
Checking-in with your employees can have a great impact on them. If there is trust between you and your staff members, it would be simple to evaluate and assist the situation. Developing a relationship with them will make it easier for you to help them.
If you find it difficult to discuss these issues yourself, consider scheduling regular one-on-one meetings so you have time together without interruptions to talk through any issues that may arise.
4. Encourage them to make time for rest and relaxation
Sometimes, the feeling of tiredness can cause stress and can trigger your wellbeing.
Reduced productivity and increased burnout are the results of an unhealthy life-work balance. Encourage your staff to maintain a healthy life-work balance and to take breaks in order to recharge.
5. Actively promote mental health in the workplace
To implement a workplace culture that promotes mental health, you must first create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health. This can be achieved by having a policy in place that outlines the procedures should any member of staff need help.
This can include details on who should be contacted if someone needs assistance, how long someone will be supported during their recovery period and what happens if they aren’t well enough to continue working at the end of this period. The policy should be visible throughout the office so everyone knows where it is located in case they ever need it – this will help ensure other employees don’t hesitate when opening up about their struggles with mental health issues.
6. Train leaders to spot employee stress
Leaders are in a position of power and can help employees with mental health issues.
They need to be aware of the signs and symptoms of different types of mental health issues. They should understand that there is no “one size fits all” approach to dealing with these issues – each situation is unique.
It is important for leaders to know what resources are available in their workplace, and how they can help employees who are struggling with a mental health issue.
8. Promote the Importance of Seeking Help
Help break the stigma. The stigma associated with mental health issues is often what prevents people from seeking help. It’s important that we all work together to break down these barriers and make sure everyone has access to the care they need.
Although it can be helpful to confide in family and friends, it is important to note that only a trained mental health expert can provide professional care when needed.
A Culture of Acceptance
Mental health is important to all of us, and we must work together to ensure a psychosocially safe environment in which people will feel comfortable discussing issues.
By creating a culture of acceptance where employees feel free to talk about their feelings, you can encourage them to be vocal about their mental state. This helps create an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their struggles with each other, so they don’t have to face them alone in silence.
We need to recognise that organisations play a crucial role in creating a culture of mental well-being among their employees by building strong relationships with them, providing regular feedback on performance, and fostering a sense of belonging.
These are all factors that contribute positively towards an employee’s emotional well-being which will ultimately lead to better productivity levels at work.
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