So you’ve started the conversation. Now what?
Mental health in the workplace remains a hot topic. And with events such as RU OK Day and Mental Health Week providing the perfect launch pad, many organisations are making the most of the increased media attention and awareness and are using these platforms to start the conversation around mental health at work.
But asking if someone is OK is just the start. How do you ensure that your workplace is one that listens, acts and promotes positive mental health?
For many organisations, its easy to start the conversation, especially with the added hype of days such as RU OK Day, but keeping the conversation alive is a whole lot harder. Here’s our top tips to start (and keep) the conversation alive:
1. Get management across all levels of your organisation on board.
Once management are on board, it’s important to provide them with the tools and resources to actively promote positive mental health in the workplace.
When someone in your workplace is promoted to a management role, it’s important to remember that they may not automatically have the skills to recognise the signs and symptoms associated with mental illness or understand their role in creating a mentally healthy workplace. Take the time to upskill your management team and educate them on your internal policies and processes so that they are best equipped to proactively recognise and respond.
Remember, if those at the top are setting a good example, the culture of the organisation becomes much more open and accepting of issues around mental health, in turn keeping the conversation alive.
2. Encourage conversations about mental health at work.
Yes, we know it’s been said over and over. But it’s true. The more the topic is discussed, the more normal it becomes. Consider introducing initiatives like Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA), just like first aiders and fire wardens, these individuals can provide support to those in need and assist anyone who is experiencing a mental health illness or in some cases mental health crisis, to get the help they need.
It’s also important that employees are aware of any support services offered by your organisation. Easily accessible and understandable information on the company’s EAP provision is also important and should be readily available to all employees.
3. Promote mental health initiatives to front line employees.
Initiatives such as RU OK Day, Mental Health Week or Stress Awareness Month can be a great way to introduce the topic of mental health at work or to provide a reminder that yes, the company is still interested in the mental health of each and every individual within the organisation. It also provides opportunities to organise workplace sessions dedicated to mental health awareness and encourages everyone to get involved, not just managers!
4. Provide support.
Depending on the culture of the company, this could range from specialised sessions with your EAP provider to the implementation of flexible working to improve the work-life balance of employees. Whatever form the support takes, the important thing is to be approachable. You want your employees to come to you with any concerns they have about their jobs, workloads, or any other situations that may be causing them stress at work.
By taking the time to listen to your employees and becoming aware of the issues they’re facing, you can put the necessary steps in place to make things easier for them, such as reducing their workload or ensuring they have the help they need with specific tasks.
And remember, starting the conversation is just the beginning. Keeping it going is what gets the results.