The past year has been the most mentally challenging year for everyone on the planet. For many of us, we switched from being in the office every day surrounded by our colleagues to working from home on our own. Some people lost their jobs completely and lack of physical connection with loved ones hasn’t been easy! Yes, Covid has contributed a lot to the rising mental health issues but mental health has always been around, and employers need to make sure their employees have the support they need.
According to the WHO, depression is one of the leading causes of disability. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people and those with mental health issues due as young as two decades earlier than they should.
Its fundamental that employers protect workers by addressing mental health issues for those with existing issues, those at higher risk, and the workforce. As an employer, you must ask the question – ‘does our workplace have a good mental health culture?’
What can employers do?
- Be aware of how to identify mental health problems – Look out for stressed, worried employees or dramatic changes to employees’ behaviour.
- Make mental-health assessment tools available to your workers – tools like checklists, questions, observations, and surveys can help understand symptoms and can be beneficial to both the employer and the employee
- Have mental health awareness days – Some employers like to raise awareness by giving employees an extra day or two off during the year so that they can do something positive for their mind. Employees can use this time to spend with their family, catching up on sleep or even watching their favourite TV show all day!
- Support your employees and offer to listen to them without judging them
Things that matter
There are a lot of benefits of greater attention to mental health in the workplace. It is true that employers who invest in mental health benefit from reduced medical costs, lower absenteeism and increased productivity and efficiency among staff. Considering reasonable adjustments for employees who are experiencing mental health issues.
A manager’s attitude towards employees can have a considerable impact on employees’ mental health. Having a good working relationship with employees can make them feel more valued in the workplace and employees can cope better with issues if they feel they can talk to their manager openly.
Reward is crucial. Rewarding employees for their work can and will impact positively on their mental health.
Fairness is key. Positive feelings of equality and fairness will lead to an increase in satisfaction and motivation and commitment in the workplace.
Workplace culture plays a significant role in the mental health of employees. Those who experience a healthy, fun and open culture will be more open about their feelings and thus, more aware of their mental health situation. Employers should promote good communication, leadership, and guidance for employees.
Work-life balance. This has become a serious talking point over the last year due to Covid. As more people are continuing to work from home, the balance between work-life becomes an issue. Employees are logging on after 5 pm to check up on emails, finish a task or do whatever they didn’t manage to get done that day! For a healthy work-life balance, logging off at 5 pm and staying off should be encouraged by the employer!
One last thing to remember is to support each other. No matter if you are the CEO of a large company, a part-time worker, contractor or freelancer, you are a member of society and have the opportunity to help others be happier in their lives.