How to Address and Support Mental Health in the Workplace
With 14% of employees having experienced suicidal thoughts and only 24% saying that their workplace actively engages with them on the subject of mental health, it’s no surprise that almost half would leave their current employment if they felt unsupported by their employers. Supporting employees’ mental health is paramount to both their wellbeing and the functioning of your business. Read on to find out how you can support your employees’ mental health in the workplace.
Pro-active listening and engagement
Making mental wellbeing a topic in the workplace is the first step to a holistically healthful environment. Checking in with employees on a regular basis for conversations about both physical and mental health will open conversations that may otherwise be hard for your employee to initiate. During these conversations, active listening is crucial. Try to maintain eye contact, unless it makes your employee feel uncomfortable, and acknowledge what is being said both with verbal and physical gestures, such as repeating back what they have said to you and/or nodding. Always revisit what has been said at the end of the conversation and vocalise and implement a support plan if required.
Ensuring the workplace is a non-judgemental space is important. You need to create a safe environment for your employees, and part of that is letting them know that they can speak and be open without judgement.
Responding to employees in crisis
Despite common myths, talking about suicide does not offer any encouragement. If you suspect an employee is feeling suicidal, talking about it is the first step to getting help. Encourage them to seek help by providing details of the Samaritans, or calling someone close to them who will be able to support them.
Managing return to work
If an employee has had to take leave of absence due to a mental health issue or crisis, supporting them in their return to work is important. Seeking guidance from an HR professional will help you make sure your are helping your employee in the most appropriate way.