Can we talk?

Can we talk?

Mental Health is now being talked about everywhere not least in the media and about time too. Thankfully, this means businesses are also waking up to the fact that mental health issues need to be addressed with the same level of compassion and importance as physical health issues.

So, what can you do to ensure your workplace is a safe and open environment where employees will feel confident enough to open up about mental health issues?

There are good accredited Mental Health First Aider courses available to train staff to be alert to any possible concerns and be the point of contact if staff feel they need to talk. Some people may still not be comfortable talking to colleagues but if there is a framework in place they can be signposted to people or organisations who may be able to help them as soon as possible. Also, ensure line managers are trained to recognise any unusual behavioural patterns.

Is there anything else you can do to support staff?

Revisit what is in place to ensure staff know who to go to if there is a problem whether that is in-house or through Employee Assistance programmes, question how effective they are and what changes could be made if necessary.

What communication channels do you have in place? Do you rely purely on a once a year appraisal system to catch up with staff and ask them how things are going? Would a schedule of regular meetings be more effective?

Think about activities which are good for mental health and team spirit such as mindfulness sessions or activities which get people together and talking.

Do you have information freely available for employees to help them with self-care? Staying healthy through eating well, exercise, sleeping for long enough, having a support network of people to talk to and information on financial wellbeing can all help alleviate anxiety and depression which so often leads on to more serious issues.

Having procedures in place will help make it a normal part of working life to have people to talk to and help keep staff in work rather than absent with mental ill health. It is so much harder to get back into work if someone has been off for a long period of time, better to try to prevent this happening in the first place. It is also important that if someone has been off for a while with mental health issues that there are reassurances that when they do come back it will not be a big issue or be an awkward situation.

Active listening, designated Wellbeing Champions and Mental Health Aiders will all go a long way in supporting your staff and creating a non-discriminatory and welcoming place to work.