It is no surprise that mental health is finally becoming a topic of discussion in modern workplaces.
Spending most of our time working may influence our mental health practices and how we integrate self-care into our professional responsibilities. The Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association and other organisations want to change the conversation about mental health in the workplace. When employees feel supported and encouraged to take care of themselves, their feelings benefit both individuals and organisations.
One early step to creating an inclusive workplace that promotes best mental health practices is to simply provide resources for employees to educate themselves and seek help when they need it. Train your human resources (HR) managers to identify symptoms of burnout and mental illness in your population and to connect with the right resources your employees need.
Include mental health and substance abuse treatment centres in your insurance benefits. Keep a list of licensed psychologists on hand to provide a reference list for employees. Bring experts to your workplace to help your team improve their work-life balance. If your company can afford it, hire in-house coaches or therapists to establish rapport and support the entire team. Providing resources is a proactive way to protect your team and remind them that you are on their side in your support for mentally healthy workplaces.
Ask for Clarity
There may be a level of disconnect if mental health concerns interfere with someone's work life. On one hand, it may feel awkward to disclose your struggles with employers and coworkers who may not know you well. On the other hand, teams consist of people who deserve proper treatment and support whenever possible. People who have such treatment and support may ultimately contribute more to their workplaces and personal lives.
7.3 million Australians experience mental health disorders in some point in their lives, so there is a good chance that your workplace includes people who have such struggles now or have had them in the past. Providing clarity about such struggles is an essential way to ensure diversity and humane working conditions.
Building your workplace culture to support mental health may take the form of conducting a survey to determine where your team members need your support. You may also schedule one-on-one meetings to brainstorm ways to improve your communication and understand mental health concerns in the office.
Update Policies and Best Practices
Another strategy you can take to develop mentally healthy workplaces is to constantly update your policies. Improving best practices is a journey that successful companies continuously practice. There is no upper limit on the amount of support you can provide to your team if it means it will improve their mental health.
Develop and revise best practices for mental health days or absences with your team. Implement a mental health check rather than disciplinary action if employee behavior changes without warning. Update your medical benefits to include psychiatric care and visits with psychologists.
Teams may also benefit from exposure to in-house meditation rooms, occasional massages or classes featuring holistic healing, or other amenities. Including mental health in the conversation around policy and employee benefits will create the space for problem-solving and great team relationships.
Investing in the mental health of your employees may lead your company toward success. Not only is it humane to raise expectations and bring the modern workforce toward inclusivity around mental health, it is a win-win situation.
Employees stay longer at their workplaces and perform better when they feel encouraged to live their healthiest lives both inside and outside of work. Companies profit by cultivating a healthy culture that encourages employee engagement, performance, and loyalty. Creating mentally healthy workplaces happens over time, so take the first step and connect with employees to create solutions together.
This article was kindly written and contributed by Patrick Bailey.