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Why We Should Open Up About Mental Health In The Workplace

Why We Should Open Up About Mental Health In The Workplace
Why We Should Open Up About Mental Health In The Workplace
Fri Jan 26

Mental health has been quite a taboo subject until recently, and thankfully things are changing.

In much the same way as we would not penalise an employee with a physical disability, neither should we think of disadvantaging or discriminating against a member of staff that has mental health issues.

It is imperative that we open up about mental health in the workplace.

Break the stigma

The first thing all employers need to accept is that mental health issues happen.

In much the same way as many illnesses, there is no rhyme nor reason to who might suffer mental health issues.

Male, female, young or old, it really can strike anyone, anywhere and having an open and honest dialogue with staff makes it much easier for people to return the honesty rather than lie.

In the past staff from all sectors confess to making up sickness bugs, family emergencies and other excuses to cover for their inability to come to work due to mental health issues.

Acknowledge and support

Sports giants Adidas and cosmetics industry leaders Johnson and Johnson are excellent role models when it comes to showing companies how to deal with mental health in the workplace.

Both companies actively offer their staff appointments with therapists, designed both to support mental health problems and to help prevent them in the first place.

Johnson and Johnson, for example, offers physiotherapy and massage appointments which are designed to help look after staff physically to help prevent them feeling low, stressed or anxious.

Adidas has onsite counsellors who are there to offer advice and support.

Learn the why

It is essential to understand what triggers mental health issues.

Lack of money, unstable relationships, family illness and death can all affect people differently.

Some people can suffer from anger management issues; others can become subdued and withdrawn.

It is essential to reach out to a member of staff that displays behaviour changes with kindness and understanding rather than frustration.

If people do not feel safe, they will not open up.

You could be the lifeline they need to ask for help and recover rather than suffer and potentially get worse.

Supported staff

By removing barriers and opening up channels of communication, you will have a happier, healthier workforce.

Suffering from depression and anxiety can be bewildering and upsetting.

Compounding these feelings with the fear of what the boss might say because you just cannot face work that day only serves to make the issues worse.

It comes as no surprise that most staff agree being able to tell the truth and not being judged takes the work pressure out of the equation and for some people this could be the difference between recovering or not.

If you cannot afford onsite therapist why not offer staff a no-questions-asked duvet day so if they wake up one morning and feel overwhelmed they can hit that snooze button, no questions asked.

A supported team leads to productive staff, so it is in the interest of the employees to make these positive changes.