Mental health is an important issue that affects a growing number of employees in the workplace. As a manager, you play a pivotal role in supporting employee mental health and cultivating a mentally healthy workplace culture. It is therefore essential to be able to identify, mitigate, and manage workplace mental health issues. Here are ten evidence-based tips to foster a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
1. Create a Safe and Supportive Environment Creating a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment is the first step in identifying and managing mental health issues in staff members. Encourage open communication (including any personal experiences) and create an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns. This can help you identify any issues early on and provide appropriate support.
2. Develop Mental Health Awareness Skills Training and education are crucial to building your capability to effectively support employee mental health. By gaining knowledge about common mental health conditions, recognising early warning signs, understanding psychosocial hazards, and providing guidance on appropriate resources, you can become a valuable source of support and assistance to your team members. Find a specialist provider that can deliver practical, evidence-based information on mental health issues pertaining to your role as a manager.
3. Identify Early Warning Signs Learn to spot the warning signs of mental health issues in your employees, such as changes in behavior, mood, and productivity. This can help you identify any issues early on and provide appropriate support. Ensure you make time for regular check-in conversations with team members. If you notice any warning signs, start a conversation with your staff member in a private and supportive setting. Ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to their responses. Be empathetic and offer support.
4. Identify and Eliminate Psychosocial Hazards Speak to staff and conduct regular risk assessments to help identify potential psychosocial hazards such as excessive workload, lack of control, poor communication, or inadequate support systems. By assessing these risks, you can proactively implement measures to mitigate or eliminate them. This could involve adjusting workloads, improving communication channels, providing adequate resources, or offering training programs on stress management and resilience.
5. Provide Support Provide appropriate support for employees with mental health conditions and check what reasonable adjustments you can make to their job. Adjustments may include allowing time off to attend appointments, flexible work arrangements, or modified hours or tasks. Provide access to employee assistance programs, or referrals to mental health professionals. Ensure that you respect their privacy and confidentiality.
6. Encourage Self-Care Encourage your staff members to practice self-care, such as taking regular breaks, engaging in physical activity, practicing mindfulness techniques, and strengths-based development. Promote and model a healthy work-life balance and provide support for staff who may be experiencing burnout.
7. Set Realistic Expectations Ensure expectations are realistic for your staff members and provide clear feedback on their performance. Avoid setting unreasonable targets that may contribute to stress and anxiety. Unrealistic deadlines or excessive workloads can lead to high levels of stress, with people working long hours, constant overtime or not taking breaks in an effort to complete tasks.
8. Foster Positive Relationships Provide opportunities for relationship building within your team and encourage social connections. Encourage team-building activities and initiatives that promote collaboration and camaraderie among employees. You can also facilitate social connections by promoting cross-functional collaborations and encouraging teamwork This can help to reduce feelings of isolation and increase feelings of social support, as well as a sense of shared purpose.
9. Monitor Progress Monitor your staff member’s progress and check in regularly to see how they are doing. Develop a work plan together. This should provide clarity on roles, responsibilities, and any reasonable adjustments to the workplace to support the staff member’s recovery. Provide ongoing support as needed and adjust your approach if necessary.
10. Know When to Seek Professional Help Finally, know when to seek professional help. If you are unsure how to manage a mental health issue, or if your staff member is in crisis, seek advice from your HR Department, a mental health professional, or your Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Workplace mental health issues can be challenging to manage, but with the right approach, managers can provide positive support to their staff members. By applying these ten tips, managers can support the mental health and wellbeing of employees, and contribute to higher job satisfaction, increased productivity, and a psychologically healthy work environment where everyone can thrive.