Poor employee mental health is the number one killer of productivity at the workplace.  The truth is the way employees behave, think, and feel, directly impacts their ability to perform, be productive, and communicate effectively, while at work.
With over 260 million people suffering from stress, depression or anxiety globally, it’s high time businesses promoted healthy working environments. Work-related mental health problems arise from a variety of issues, including burn out, poor communication, and bullying. However, employers can improve the mental well-being and the performance of their entire organization by implementing strategies that promote healthy working environments.
Here are six tips employers can use to promote mental health in the workplace.

1. Promote Work/Life Balance

A healthy work/life balance decreases the potential of burnout and increases employee productivity. Instead of commending staff members who arrive early and work until late or overtime, employers should encourage workers to take regular breaks. During these breaks, employees can develop a productive life outside the office where they can spend time with their loved ones, engage in hobbies, and take care of their mental wellbeing.

A work-life balance not only helps employees build a natural shield against workplace stress but promotes productivity.  Besides encouraging breaks that allow employees to unplug from the office, companies should also encourage physical activity and provide stress reduction workshops or coffee breaks to allow employees to socialize.

2. Prioritize Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health is a severe issue that needs to be managed effectively. If left unaddressed, the various mental problems can have detrimental effects on the physical and psychological wellness of employees.

Thus, it’s imperative to educate managers and supervisors about the signs of mental health problems and how to respond to these issues. Moreover, employers can hire psychiatric professionals to train workers about mindfulness or offer access to stress-free activities. Additionally, companies should create policies that promote emotional and mental wellness and treatment to ensure employees operate at their best.

3. Incorporate Events to Help Employees Address Mental Health Issues

Poor mental health is among the most challenging and poorly understood issues. Those suffering from psychological issues fail to detect any problem until it has progressed to a more severe stage. Moreover, those diagnosed with a mental condition tend to remain silent,  due to the fear of discrimination stemming from the lack of information and stigma.

Nonetheless, providing your employees with training workshops on self-care, stress management, and resilience is a significant step to promote mental wellness. For instance, businesses could hire a therapist to provide essential knowledge or information about psychological well-being throughout the year. Such initiatives could help employees identify the risk factors and symptoms to look out for. Ultimately, this equips employees with useful knowledge on how to seek treatment.

4. Create a Healthy Working Environment

Today’s modern, fast-paced, and high-pressure workplaces can be stressful even for the most mentally healthy employees. Every business consists of a unique blend of policies, employees, and activities that can establish challenges and opportunities for mental health to prevail.

According to the World Health Organization, work-related mental health issues arise from various factors, including the ones below:

  • Scarce health and safety policies
  • Poor communication and management practices
  • Restricted employee participation in decision-making
  • Lack of support for employees
  • Inflexible working hours
  • Unclear tasks or organizational objectives
  • Excessive workloads
  • Unsuitable jobs based on employees’ competency

However, these risk factors can be addressed by implementing the following strategies.

  1. Protecting mental wellness by reducing work-related risk factors
  2. Developing positive aspects of work by focusing on employees’ strengths.
  3. Addressing mental health issues regardless of the cause

5. Assist Employees to Identify Mental Health Risks

About one in four employees experience some kind of mental health issue in any given year. Yet, many suffer in silence due to the fear of stigma or other reasons. What’s worse, some people fail to recognize the signs of a mental problem. Instead, they assume those symptoms are a normal part of ageing or stress.

Assisting employees to identify risk factors and symptoms associated with mental problems is an effective strategy to improve the productivity of your employees. For instance, businesses can incorporate private and free screenings, which may include filling up questionnaires that highlight their habits and symptoms. From these questionnaires, employers can decide whether or not to refer staff members to complete a professional assessment. Alternatively, employees can use free screening tools that are readily available online. These resources will provide employees with complete privacy, immediate feedback about their results, and information on community resources that can evaluate and treat mental issues.

6. Promote Awareness and Engagement

Ensuring that the staff members feel valued plays an integral role in creating a healthy and open working environment, where employees can comfortably speak about their mental issues. For instance, encouraging employee engagement by introducing mental health initiatives, builds morale, improves workplace communication, prevents stigma, and boosts job satisfaction.

When employees trust that the management cares for their mental health, they’ll be more willing to seek necessary treatment. This can foster a culture of spreading mental health awareness in the workplace. Additionally, this offers employees an opportunity to provide feedback about the changes that should be made in the workplace, to enhance mental wellness.

In most cases, the negative stigma around mental health issues stems from common misconceptions and lack of information. Thus, educating staff members about psychological conditions and encouraging open discussions is a fundamental part of dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.

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Dr. Harry from German Neuroscience Center in Dubai is a UK-trained Clinical Psychologist, originally from Ireland. He completed his master’s degree in Health Psychology with the University of Ulster and completed his doctoral training in Clinical Psychology at the University of East London. He has almost a decade of experience working across a diverse range of mental health and other specialist psychology services in Ireland and the U.K.

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