The subject of mental health has been viewed as taboo in the past. Many people saw it as something that shouldn’t be mentioned, or as a weakness. This was even more prevalent in the workplace.
While there is still a long way to go, society is starting to realize how important it is to support our mental health and to look after it as we would our physical health. Employers have a huge role to play in this. What can you do within your organisation to encourage your employer to put measures in place?
Review insurance and benefits
A lot of employers use health schemes as part of their perks packages. This can be anything from subsidised gym memberships to cashback on health spending to fully funded private healthcare. These often cover things such as drugs and alcohol rehab or physiotherapy after an accident. Ask your HR department to outline what options are available for care associated with mental health. If these are included in the schemes, then they should be communicated more openly to employees. If they aren’t then lobby your employer to add these.
The shift to remote working during the pandemic has led to a change in work habits for many companies. Flexible and hybrid working has shown to offer employees a better work-life balance and reduce stress levels.
If your employer doesn’t offer this, then you can lobby your HR department or ask if you can set up a pilot to assess how it would work in your company.
Awareness training for leadership
Any initiative at a company has to come from the top for it to be successful. Leaders and managers should know how their behaviour affects the mental health of people who work under them and recognise the signs of someone who might be struggling. Additionally, employees should be made aware of what they can do to safeguard their mental health and how to seek help should they need it.
Mental health first aid training
You train people in medical first aid, so why not mental health first aid too. There are more and more companies offering this. They will teach you why mental health is important, how to improve it in the workplace and potential red flags which may mean that someone needs help or even an intervention.
Having people who are attuned to the mental health needs of their colleagues can be a huge comfort to people, who realise that they can talk to someone without it affecting their career.
Taking care of your mental health is vital to your overall wellbeing. Your job can have a huge impact on every area of your life. After all, you spend more time at work than anywhere else.
Even if you aren’t in a position of authority in your employer, you can still get involved and push for positive change for yourself and your colleagues. The positive impact it can have on people’s lives should not be underestimated.