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How businesses can improve workforce wellbeing on World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Awareness Day 2020 from Health Management

This year’s World Mental Health Day could hardly be more timely. With winter approaching, restrictions on meeting family and friends, and the prospect of COVID-19 restrictions preventing gatherings at Christmas, there are currently a host of challenges to our mental health.

Many have been affected by coronavirus, through illness or bereavement. COVID-19 survivors may be more vulnerable to mental health conditions, and cases of ‘Long COVID’ are now emerging. There are economic anxieties, too, as the cost of the COVID-19 crisis comes in to focus with large-scale redundancies and a bleaker economic outlook. In addition, Brexit is only around the corner.

Supporting the mental health of your workforce, this year, is more important than ever. Here are five steps businesses can take to achieve this:

1: Work to reduce the stigma attached to mental health

The first step is acknowledging the topic – which can be achieved by encouraging managers to discuss their own mental health issues and talk about how they overcame them. Encourage staff across your business to talk positively about the subject, and share their stories and experiences. This will help to normalise mental health as a topic for discussion.

TIP: Feature an article or profile from a senior manager within your business discussing the importance of World Mental Health Day. Encourage senior managers to be open about the impact of the pandemic on their own mental health.

2: Introduce regular check-ins on staff wellbeing 

Ideally in an informal, neutral environment to encourage employees to speak more freely about what’s going on well for them and any challenges they feel confident sharing. Dedicate specific meetings and times for discussions on mental wellbeing, to signify its importance and  to avoid this becoming a low-ranking item on the meeting agenda.

TIP: Dedicate your team meeting on World Mental Health Day to staff wellbeing. Use open-ended conversational starters, for instance, asking ‘how are you’ – and engaging with the response. Don’t wait for a perfect moment to initiate conversations on mental wellbeing.

3: Challenge negative comments or inappropriate jokes and language, and encourage others to share their feelings

Managers should be approachable and available, acting quickly in cases of conflict and bullying. They should also be able to lead by example and create a positive culture, by taking lunch breaks and demonstrating a good work/life balance.

TIP: Do you have policies on responding to work emails outside of hours? Prepare some internal communications encouraging staff to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day, and keep out-of-hours time personal.

4: Review your Mental Health First Aid resources

World Mental Health Day is the perfect time to improve the visibility of your Mental Health First Aiders, and assess whether they are adequately equipped to fulfil this role. It’s an opportunity for Mental Health First Aiders to make their presence known by leading on an awareness drive for mental health, explaining what they do and signposting the support that is available in your organisation.

TIP: To mark World Mental Health Day, include an article on your intranet or a poster on your staff noticeboard showcasing the amazing work your Mental Health First Aiders do, and how they can be contacted.

5: Invest in training to improve the confidence of your staff on mental health issues.

There are a wide range of remote training programmes suitable for managers, mental health first aiders, and employees aiming to maintain or improve their own mental health. These can be incorporated into regular or an annual refresher training, or held as stand-alone sessions within particular teams or management levels.

TIP: Speaking to your Health Management contact about the programmes we deliver.

Check out these online Mental Health training programmes from Remploy.