Employer Branding

Mental Health: A Boardroom Issue Which Won’t Go Away

Mental health is an important focal point in society and as with any societal shift, it is impacting the place of work, businesses, and companies alike.  As a result, organizations need to respond and adapt.

As companies have previously harnessed other societal shifts such as the power of social media to reach their target audience, businesses are now realizing the significance of awareness and understanding mental health.

One in four people have a mental health illness

Individuals and businesses can no longer avoid this subject.  But beware, just simply building awareness of mental health among your employees is no longer all that is required of a business; you must do more if you want to truly reap the rewards for yourself and your teams.  Organizations should be taking strong and positive action to support everyone’s mental health and ensuring their employees know where they can access that support.

One in four people has mental health illnesses, which works out at around 8.15 million employees in the UK. That’s 8.15 million people who, at some point, might need time off work or just some extra time to do their job.  Typically, these individuals are desperate for some empathy and understanding from their managers and the wider team. This can be achieved by having a clear, supportive, and structured wellness program in place while at work.

Championing from the top down

Wellness in the workplace needs to be championed from the top and filtered down. If the top of the tree – i.e. senior team and management takes it seriously, those beneath will follow. This can be achieved by the senior and management teams taking time to show your teams that they need time-out and that they understand others do too.   This will go a long way towards employees accepting there is are only so many hours in the day and some days can be less productive than others, which will help address some of the work-related stress and anxiety often felt.

A big part of pushing workplace wellness, in fact, the most important part in some respect, comes from your managers. They have daily direct exposure to your employees and training them to recognize a shift in someone’s behavior and how to better support that person is key to having a strong wellness program in place. Your managers can advocate the program, constantly direct team members to the advice, update them on seminars, one-to-one, and additional support and begin to tackle mental health within the workplace proactively.  At hero, we’ve recognized this, which is why we train all management-level employees in mental health and teach them how to spot changes in their teams. Managers will have the training to understand what training and support their teams need at any given time.

Advice for managers

When it comes to dealing with the mental illness of employees it’s important that managers understand how to engage in a meaningful conversation but also recognize and understand their limitations as a manager.  As a manager, there is only so much they can do to support their teams but ultimately they need to understand the importance and significance of safeguarding themselves too.

Hero’s checklist of advice looks like this:

  • Educate yourself on the common signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Facilitate good conversations and really ask and mean:  “are you alright?”
  • Establish what reasonable adjustments can be made to support team members.
  • Identify the relevant support network i.e. HR, Direct Leader, EAP access, Occupational Health, or even local charities.
  • Understand limitations – What level of help can be given before another individual is at risk?
  • It’s important to remember, this is not about opinion, but instead, impartiality, being non-judgmental and supportive.

The Hero difference

Hero’s differing factor is its proactive approach to mental health and wellbeing in general. By delivering bespoke programs for businesses that are tailored to the employees, people can access the training and advice that they need whenever they need it and can arm themselves to spot when they are feeling strained or not quite themselves. In knowing what to look out for and having access to solutions-led advice via the Navigator app as well as one-to-one sessions, employers can help employees to keep themselves healthy and happy.

About the author: Andy Romero-Birkbeck, hero Content & Delivery Director, has over 15 years of experience in Manageable Health and Wellbeing.  He regularly delivers talks and seminars on all aspects of mental health at the workplace and supports organizations with their strategies to proactively manage this.

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