What’s the best mental health initiative in the workplace? Whether you are starting out on your journey or have a well-established mental health strategy it is probably a question you’ve asked yourself at some point. Truth is, there is unlikely to be a one size fits all answer.
What you choose to implement should be based on several factors. These factors may include the demographic of your workforce, industry, and culture. Knowing your people is pivotal to the success of any mental health initiative in the workplace. Research shows there are some evidence-based mental health initiatives that support good mental health and positively impact health in the workplace.
Not really an initiative but it’s so important it needs to be mentioned. If you have board advocacy, it starts to break down the taboo. You could ask a senior leader to speak out on the issue perhaps drawing on their own experiences.
Often viewed, wrongly, as a sign of weaknesses, talking about your feelings is the best thing you can do to manage your mental health and deal with tough times. Asking how someone is should be the first question a supervisor or line manager asks someone whether it be a quick catch up or more formal 1-1.
They deal with mental health issues in the workplace day in day out but they often lack the training and confidence to manage on their own. Invest the time and money by up skilling your line managers to help them manage mental health challenges in the workplace. Supervising First Aid for Mental Health is a good place to start as it teaches people how to identify, understand and help a person who may be developing a mental health problem. In the same way as we learn physical first aid, mental health first aid teaches you how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill health.
Piggybacking off initiatives such as Mental Health Awareness Week or World Mental Health Day is a great way to demonstrate you are taking a genuine and sincere interest to improve mental health at work. These national campaigns often come with lots of free tools and marketing support to help promote your own initiatives.
Offering opportunities that allow people to better manage their work-life balance can have a positive impact and increase productivity. Providing people with the autonomy to work from home on flexible hours that suit their needs is a great way to instill trust and support people to manage their own unique responsibilities. Some companies are even offering annual leave in the form of ‘mental health days‘.
Delivered by experienced and fully qualified mental health professionals these sessions could range from how to manage anxiety and depression or how to reduce stress.
Promote any internal or external support mechanisms you already have in place. Messages can easily get missed so be consistent and targeted with your marketing and promotion of these outlets. If your company has an EAP signpost to the mental health support line or occupational health. Externally use providers such as Samaritans, or CALM.
What’s good for the heart is good for the mind. Keeping active is a great way to manage your mental health as well as your physical health. Set up workplace based physical activity initiatives or raise money for charity by signing up to an event.
It’s important to maintain healthy relationships with people. They allow people to share positive experiences and offer emotional support in tough times. Hold lunch and learn sessions, set up afterwork groups or clubs, have regular team away days or go for a walk together at lunch.
Research suggests selfless acts of kindness help improve your mental wellbeing. They give people a sense of purpose and self-worth. They boost how good you feel about yourself and positively elevate your mood. Set up a thank you wall in your office filled with post it notes, offer to help at your local care home or community centre, or set up a workplace allotment and grow your own veg.
This list isn’t in any order but just remember this isn’t a one size fits all approach. Carefully consider what you think will be appropriate along with the timing. Think about the peaks and troughs in your business and launch initiatives so it prepares people to manage their health and wellbeing in busier times. And don’t forget to celebrate the successes your initiatives bring. Keep reviewing things because as people come and go their needs will change so you’ll need to re-assess.