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Recently I listened to a podcast about the aptness of Mental Health At Work Programs and would dearly like to share what I gained from it with you in this blog post.

To avoid the detrimental impact poor mental has on both employees and businesses, employers must take action to prevent mental health issues occurring, as well as providing support when they do. The reward for getting this right is a happier, healthier workforce, and a more successful, high-performing business. While there is increasing awareness of the impacts of poor employee mental health, there remains a disconnect between employers’ intentions More job autonomy is associated with lower rates of anxiety and depression. Employers can increase employees' autonomy by allowing them more freedom to craft how they do their roles. Mental illnesses can cause disability and unemployment rates to rise, resulting in employees who are hired and trained but no longer be able to do their jobs. Additional time and money need to be put into finding, onboarding, and training a new employee. Making sure everyone can talk about mental health at work is an important step your business can take to help people manage it. Much progress has been made in reducing the stigma of mental health, but we still need to do more. Despite many employees feeling their employer or line manager would be supportive if they shared a mental health issue, a significantly smaller number of people actually do disclose concerns. Some say this is because they fear discrimination. A lot of remote workers feel like they constantly need to be “visible” in their digital workspaces to “prove” that they are working. They feel they need to be present for every discussion in chat, or can’t let a notification go unanswered for more than a few minutes. This pressure adds unnecessary anxiety. Instead of being able to do their work, they are constantly worryying about how their contributions are perceived.

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We cannot create a wellbeing environment if we don’t train our managers to look after their people effectively. We’ve got to understand how to train and teach managers, and what we hold them to account. Potential workplace triggers for distress include negative relationships or poor communication and an unsupportive workplace culture or lack of management support. At work, you may have a hobby you’d like to share or join in with colleagues on – a work cycling club, book group or crafting group can be a great way to share a skill with others. A lack of clear data around the impact of mental health on an organisation is a key challenge. Measuring workplace wellbeing and its impact on business performance is not easy. Due to the stigma associated with mental health, conditions and incidents tend to be under-reported and reasons for absence not given. Communication that emphasizes that leadership cares about concepts such as Wellbeing for HR should be welcomed in the working environment.

Evidence-based Mental Health Promotion

Taking time for yourself is a selfless act that enables you to feel at your best — not only for yourself but for others around you. Taking breaks of varied lengths, whether micro-breaks or longer periods of time, helps boost productivity and happiness, which, in turn, creates a positive ripple effect for your colleagues and loved ones. By acknowledging that mental health is a workplace issue, we create opportunities to help people when they need it. Wellbeing shaming is a sign of the pressure to be constantly connected to work. A sign of the pressure to “win” (ugh) at work. This trend is not only unsustainable, it’s dangerous. It’s created an expectation where many people feel as though they can’t disconnect from work, even when they really need to for emotional health reasons. Companies who ignore emotional health do more than put their employees’ mental well-being at risk. If stressed, unhappy employees spread negativity throughout the organization, companies may find their complacency over their employees’ emotional health also puts their business at risk. Employers should be able to support employees to stay in work, when appropriate, and make adjustments including support with workload, revised working hours, allowing absence for treatment or opportunities to work from home, depending on the individual’s needs. Even though it may not be easy to become an employee-centric company addressing workplace wellbeing ideas it is of utmost importance in this day and age.

By tackling the issue of mental health in the workplace from the starting point of promoting wellbeing you may find that in itself begins to address some of the stigma and stereotypes associated with mental ill health, and achieve early buy-in from staff. If employees are more aware of what 'wellbeing' is, what the benefits are, and how they can achieve it, they will be better equipped to look after themselves and be more sensitive to the needs of others. The impact of mental health problems in the workplace has serious consequences not only for the individual but also for the productivity of a company. Such areas as employee performance, sickness absence, accidents, increased costs and staff turnover are all affected by employee’s mental health. It’s not always easy to discuss mental health and wellness — especially in a work setting. But sometimes, talking with your co-workers can really help them (and you) feel a little less overwhelmed, a little less stressed, and a lot more supported. Organisations should address the topic of mental health in team meetings and individual performance reviews. Regular one-to-one meetings are a chance to ask people how they’re doing, which helps to build trust and creates an opportunity to address any problems at an early stage. A mental health friendly work environment is one where employees are respectful and considerate in their interactions with one another, as well as with customers, clients and the public. Discussing ideas such as workplace wellbeing support is good for the staff and the organisation as a whole.

Mental Health Outcomes

Given the high levels of stress and poor mental health we are seeing in the workplace, there is a growing demand for innovative and proactive ways of managing our mental health at work. The Wellness Action Plan (WAP) is inspired by Mary Ellen Copeland’s Wellness Recovery Action Plan® (WRAP®): an evidence-based system used worldwide by people to manage their mental health. A mentally safe workplace will empower and enable employees to do their best. Leaders play an important role in creating these conditions. Working environments that pose risks for mental wellbeing put high demands on a person without giving them sufficient control and support to manage those demands. A perceived imbalance between the effort required and the rewards of the job can lead to stress. A sense of injustice and unfairness arising from management processes or personal relationships can also increase stress and risks to mental health. When we say mental health, we’re talking about the psychological and emotional wellbeing of someone. A positive mental state of mind is just as important as staying fit. Although the two are separate, they go hand in hand in ensuring we remain healthy throughout life. The changing working environment has posed an increasing challenge for employers who are looking to support their teams. Limited in-person contact between managers and employees has made building trusting relationships more difficult, and can also make spotting the signs of struggle harder. Thinking about concepts such as employers duty of care mental health is really helpful in a workplace environment.

Workplace mental health and wellbeing is a significant issue which employers have a moral as well as economic reason to address. Employees who can take proactive measures to manage their mental health and wellbeing, can give their best at work. Within any office, the culture, atmosphere and general dynamic is constantly changing, which, for someone struggling with their mental health, can be really difficult. The inability to adapt in an ever-changing environment can really slow down what should be a natural growth process within your business. A successful organisation depends on employee wellbeing. A paper entitled ‘Does Worker Wellbeing Affect Workplace Performance?’ investigated the relationship between employees’ subjective well-being and workplace performance in Britain. They found a clear correlation between the average level of job satisfaction at the workplace and workplace performance. However, they found zero association between levels of job-related affect and workplace performance. Work-related stress is the response people may have when presented with demands and pressures that are not matched to their abilities, leading to an inability to cope, especially when employees feel they have little support from supervisors and little control over work processes. Harassment and bullying at work are commonly reported problems, and can have a substantial adverse impact on mental health. An opinion on managing employees with mental health issues is undoubtebly to be had in every workplace in the country.

General Mental Health Interventions

While there is a greater need for support with mental health at work, there is growing evidence to suggest that individuals around the world are recognizing the importance and benefit of self-care more than ever. Issues surrounding work and mental health conditions can be supported by simply making time for regular discussions and feedback with employees. Understand the employee including their mental health, ability to work and performance in their role. Find out what you can about what it is like to have mental ill health and listen to your employees’ experiences. Many workers are sceptical about raising mental health issues with their manager, particularly in a time when they are under severe pressure. Digital tools and products are an enabler of change and give businesses the opportunity for low cost, scalable interventions in the workplace. Uncover more intel appertaining to Mental Health At Work Programs at this World Health Organisation web page.

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