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Research studies provide strong evidence that companies with high levels of mental health awareness are more successful. According to research by University of Warwick, addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by up to 12%. And, as reported in the government’s Stevenson-Farmer Review of Mental Health and Employers in 2017, businesses that invest in mental health interventions report an average of £4.20 return for each pound spent. If an employee talks to you about their mental health, ask them what they would like you to do with the information, such as what to tell colleagues, and ask how the workplace can support them. Stigma surrounding mental illness may prevent people from feeling comfortable about how mental health issues will be handled at work. It’s important to have an open dialogue with employees when discussing their mental health. Although your employer is under a duty to ensure your mental health at work and is therefore responsible for assessing the risks you face and for implementing measures to safeguard your wellbeing, there is a great deal of advice available about how you can give yourself the best chance of mental health and wellbeing. Mental health issues run the gamut, from anxiety and depression to eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. They can affect a person’s perceptions, thoughts, moods, and behaviors. It’s time we really looked at the return on investment of workplace well-being initiatives in a way that’s accessible to different budgets and needs. The evidence is clear for a strong business case to support employee mental health and well-being.

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Employers must look towards preventative solutions – available to employees at every level – rather than only dealing with present issues impacting staff. Mental health and well-being needs to be addressed at an organisational level. All elements of the organisation have a role to play in designing, implementing, monitoring and reviewing policies and practice. Ideally you should form a mental health and well-being working group with representation from senior management, employees, trade unions, human resources and occupational health. Many impressively accomplished people have also had their own struggles with mental illness. Some of the most successful people I know have intense clinical anxiety, and their form of coping is by productively channeling it into their work. They remain passionate about their work, and impact their community in a positive way. Examples of peer-to-peer groups within businesses includes physical – such as grief counselling groups and special interest communities – and digital solutions. These can be beneficial in connecting those who want to better understand their emotions with people who have had shared experiences. Discussing ideas such as  workplace wellbeing ideas is good for the staff and the organisation as a whole.

Developing A Healthy Organizational Culture

It is incumbent upon all of us, to work together to improve workplace health. Every one of us should have the opportunity to benefit from the positive impact good work has on physical and mental health, especially those with existing mental health conditions. To promote mental well-being at work, employees should encourage employers to offer stress management education and mental health programs that meet their needs and interests. Employees should also understand policies around how to take a mental health break from work in case the need arises. You may have a physical job like construction or teaching – you’ll notice if you are off sick because of injury or physical illness how quickly your mood starts to be affected by the change in activity level. If you work in an office it can make a huge difference to get out for a walk or do a class at lunchtime, or to build in exercise before or after work. Take proactive steps to keep your employees’ work/life balance healthy. You could encourage your staff to work sensible hours, ensure they take full lunch breaks, and advise them to avoid working at weekends. Feelings of stress and anxiety can be common in work places but it is possible to manage them without them having an impact on an employee’s ability to do their job. There are steps your business can take to provide the support that employees need. Don't forget to send out proper internal communications around Wellbeing for HR in your organisation.

Much like physical health, employers play an important role in supporting the mental health of their employees. By offering and promoting mental health programs, information and support, employers can have a meaningful impact on the lives of their employees. An important piece of this support is understanding the needs and wants of the workforce when it comes to mental health. Thirty years ago, most workers with mental health issues did not expect to receive significant help from their employer beyond, in the more enlightened or benevolent cases, tolerance and some time off work. For the government and the bodies that enforce health and safety at work – the HSE and local authorities – the emphasis had traditionally been on safety with consideration of health matters mostly addressing physical health. With a national emphasis on mental health, UK employers have never had a better opportunity to start a conversation with their employees about their wellbeing. And with seven in ten employees having suffered from a condition that’s related to mental health – from stress to suicidal feelings – it has become even more to put employee wellbeing at the top of the corporate to do list. Unless you’ve been living on the set of Mad Men for the past decade, you know that workplace wellness has become a hot topic, and you’ve gained at least a cursory familiarity with some of the major factors that make a workplace a healthy place to be. There are various reasons why employees don’t speak up - from not knowing the process for airing problems to feeling ashamed. There are many things managers and employers can do to create a speak-up culture, where those struggling with mental health will feel comfortable asking for help. Even though it may not be easy to become an employee-centric company addressing  employers duty of care mental health it is of utmost importance in this day and age.

Practice Self-care

If you think an employee is considering suicide, it is important to tell him/her that you care and that you want to help. Encourage them to talk - the opportunity to talk about how they feel and why they want to die often provides great relief. Asking or talking about suicide does not cause someone to become suicidal. Employees will clearly benefit from workplaces that promote and protect their psychological health and safety. For employers, the business case rests on four main parameters – enhanced cost effectiveness, improved risk management, increased organizational recruitment and retention as well as corporate social responsibility It makes logical sense why mental health wasn’t talked about at work historically. For a long time, many people didn’t understand what mental health was, and definitely not mental illness, or have the permission to talk about “those feelings” in their personal lives. So, what would make older generations in the workplace think they could talk to their manager about it unless it had been spoken about at home in their formative years? How can organisations support those who don’t want to share? These employees could have high levels of need and be at risk of self-harm or harming others if they are unable to access support. Building emotional intelligence helps us "play well with others." Learn strategies to help you understand and respond to others' emotions and reactions in helpful ways (and without judgment). Similarly to any change that happens within organizations, discussions around managing employees with mental health issues need planning and implementing properly.

Anonymous pulse surveys are useful tools for detecting brewing mental health issues before they emerge. Survey responses will help assess the organization’s overall mental health climate and may help to identify areas — specific functions or teams, for example — that require particular support. Individuals with mental health problems are amongst the most excluded people when it comes to employment - and it is argued that this leads to further social exclusion which precipitates and exacerbates mental ill-health. Whether you have a job that leaves you rushed off your feet or one that is monotonous and unfulfilling, the most effective way to combat job burnout is to quit and find a job you love instead. Of course, for many of us changing job or career is far from being a practical solution, we’re grateful just to have work that pays the bills. Whatever your situation, though, there are still steps you can take to improve your state of mind. The key to employers improving mental wellbeing in the workplace is listening to their employees in terms of what support would be helpful and making them feel safe and able to be open about mental health in the workplace. The most effective way to achieve this is to embed mental wellbeing into your company culture by incorporating the above initiatives and creating a safe space for people to talk about their mental wellbeing at work; allowing employees to thrive, not just survive. We know that work has a really important role in promoting mental wellbeing and is a key factor in self-esteem and identity. We also know that the recent financial downturn has caused upheaval in both employment and in public services. This, inevitably, has had a knock on effect on public health and mental health both directly through job loss, and indirectly in terms of changes to lifestyle and healthcare access. For employers not investing in wellbeing initiatives,  workplace wellbeing support can be a difficult notion to comprehend.

Work-life Balance

A mentally safe workplace will empower and enable employees to do their best. Leaders play an important role in creating these conditions. If employers and Government work together to reduce the number of people who leave work with mental health problems to even the same rate as those with a physical health condition, this will prevent around 100,000 with a long term mental health condition leaving employment each year. This is entirely measureable and achievable, and will be a key way of determining success. More than half of workers feel uncomfortable talking to their managers and supervisors; they fear that discussing their mental health could lead to being fired or furloughed (30%) or could cost them a promotion (29%). Stumble upon more insights about Employee Mental Health Programs Approaches at this  Health and Safety Executive page.

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 How Do We Understand More About Employee Mental Health Initiatives?

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