Mental Health Awareness: how to encourage a mentally healthy workplace

BlogBusiness Evolution Posted: Monday 13th May 2019 by

This week is mental health awareness week, so we’d like to explore the steps that employers can take to promote a mentally healthy workplace that has a direct and positive business impact.

According to a survey of 1500 office-based employees in the UK by Powwownow, as reported by Employee Benefits magazine, 62% of respondents felt that their workplace is negatively impacting on their mental health. And, worryingly, 43% don’t know whether they’re allowed to take sick leave for mental health purposes.

Additionally, work-life balance and flexible working arrangements are right at the top of the millennial wish list. So, what can your business do to encourage a mentally healthy workplace?

Promote active lifestyles and a healthy diet

It’s well known that regular exercise and a good diet are hugely beneficial to maintaining both physical and mental health. Exercise alone can boost self-esteem and help your employees to concentrate. However, employees may be trying to implement these changes at home only to fall off the wagon the minute they step foot in the office.

We’re not saying it’s a good idea to ban to all doughnuts or tell Barbara to stop bringing in those delicious homemade cookies. Rather, offer and encourage alternative, healthy and fully inclusive choices. A couple of quick fixes could include:

*Replace unhealthy snack machines with a huge bowl of fruit in communal kitchen and staff areas.
*Start a work sports club and encourage sign-ups.
*Establish areas for eating lunch that doesn’t involve a desk and a computer, or better still, encourage staff to take their lunch break away from the office.
*Encourage staff to mix with other departments and form stronger working relationships.
*Install a water fountain or cooler so there is always fresh drinking water on tap.
*Stock the kitchen with a healthy alternative to caffeine; fruit and peppermint teas offer refreshing replacements.

Promote mental health awareness

To improve morale and open a window for discussion, your business could encourage an open forum to discuss mental health issues in the workplace. These forums, or awareness days, can provide an excellent opportunity for employees to discuss their views, share any concerns in an environment where they won’t be judged and suggest changes to the workplace culture to encourage better mental health.

Provide access to external support

Talking about mental health is something that many still find difficult. Openly communicating alternative ways to access support can help staff to get help without involving anyone within the business.

Systems and platforms such as Unmind, WeWorkWell, or WellHub provide innovative, digitised solutions that can connect your employees to wellbeing resources and external support.

Offer flexible working arrangements

Employers should recognise that personal and professional lives are intertwined. One always affects the other and while an employee looks like their swimming smoothly on the surface, they could be paddling like mad underneath the waters.

According to a report in the Telegraph in November 2018, work-related stress anxiety or depression accounts for over half of all working days lost due to ill health in Great Britain. This equates to 57.3% of 26.8 million lost work days due to sickness absence; a huge impact on the bottom line of British business.

Although offering flexible working arrangements won’t cure the issue completely, it will allow your staff more flexibility and balance when it comes to managing the demands of their personal lives.

If your business needs support to implement mental health awareness, the expert team at Human Results are here to help.

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