5 Ways To Help Your Employees With Their Mental Health At Work


A&I and belonging

June 14, 2023

1. Recognising Signs of Anxiety:

It is crucial for employers to be equipped with the ability to identify signs of mental distress, particularly anxiety, in their employees. Physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headaches, tiredness, and dizziness may indicate anxiety. Additionally, heightened emotional states like irritability or tearfulness may be observed in the workplace.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is challenging for individuals experiencing anxiety, leading to last-minute cancellations of annual leave, working late at night from home, or even insisting on coming into work when unwell. However, it's important to recognise that neglecting physical and mental health can hinder productivity. Studies show that when mental health is poor, 59 percent of individuals are less productive at work.

A simple five-minute conversation from employers reaching out to employees showing signs of anxiety or distress can make a positive impact. Initiating dialogue by asking, "Are you okay?" or scheduling regular meetings to discuss workloads and emotional well-being can help create a supportive atmosphere.

2. Encouraging Open Communication:

While it's encouraging that more employees are comfortable sharing their mental health struggles with their employers, a significant number still go to work despite experiencing poor mental well-being. Managers should strive to understand why individuals choose to work in such conditions. By gaining insights into their team's actions, employers can provide appropriate support and address issues like presenteeism.

Practicing "active listening" for at least five minutes per week can make a significant difference. Active listening involves genuinely understanding and reflecting on what's being said, followed by thoughtful responses. This skill is particularly valuable for employees experiencing stress and anxiety. Employers may also consider offering Emotional Literacy Training to equip staff with the ability to recognise distress in others and themselves, fostering a workforce capable of identifying and addressing anxiety symptoms.

3. Emphasising Self-Care:

Studies reveal that a significant portion of individuals dedicated no time to supporting their mental health in the past year.

Employers can contribute to a sense of connection and belonging by promoting campaigns that encourage team-building, stress reduction, and connectivity. Exercise has proven benefits on overall well-being, with 27 percent of respondents reporting that it lifts their mood and reduces anxiety or depression. Encouraging employees to incorporate physical activity into their day can be as simple as discussing it during morning meetings or distributing ideas throughout the office or via email.

Additionally, managers can raise awareness of physical health screenings available in the office, allowing employees to uncover any underlying health issues in minutes.

4. Promoting Access to Professional Support:

While social interaction is crucial for reducing anxiety, professional support plays a vital role as well. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) can provide direct and confidential access to mental health experts. Employers should openly communicate these support services and guide employees on how to access them effectively. This can be done through emails, office huddles, or virtual "wellbeing hubs."

Transparent communication about available options demonstrates that conversations about mental health are welcomed and expected in the workplace.

5. Embracing Flexibility:

It's essential to recognise that no single intervention works for everyone. Flexibility is key to supporting the workforce effectively. Employers should allow staff to choose their preferred five minutes of self-care each day, whether it's stretching at their desk, taking a brisk walk, or practicing a short guided meditation or breathing exercises.

Furthermore, flexibility should extend to communication preferences. Encourage individuals to use the communication style that works best for them, be it in-person meetings or phone calls. By accommodating individual needs, workplaces can create an environment where everyone can thrive and overcome feelings of anxiety.

By adopting these strategies, employers can play a pivotal role in creating a supportive and mentally healthy workplace. Recognising signs of anxiety, fostering open communication, emphasising self-care, promoting access to professional support, and embracing flexibility will help prioritise employees' mental wellbeing.

Let's work together to create a workplace where mental health is valued and supported for the benefit of all.

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