“People are scared to talk about it, but they should be scared about not talking about it.”Prince Harry
There is currently a lot of buzz around the subject of mental health, but whilst we debate about it, how can we really get to grips with managing mental health within our organisations?
This post is just a simple outline of how you can start to structure those trickier conversations and allow people to speak openly about their mental health at work. It is important to remember that the steps towards positive mental health cultures begin with creating a safe space within our organisations.
Create an appropriate safe space
Creating a safe space especially in an open plan or small organisation can be a challenge but it is an important factor in starting those important conversations in respect of employee mental health.
The location of the safe space may be a private meeting room or another place which could be offsite, however it is important as this will be key in making the employees feel more comfortable and help them be more relaxed for when they are ready to open up.
Mental health challenges can be difficult to spot, so ensure that you treat each case individually, after all, mental health is different for each individual, this makes is a particularly difficult subject for employers to tackle as there is no one size fits all solution. As many people hide their mental health struggles, actively listening once they choose to open up is critical to understanding the issue so that options for support can be identified.
Identify support resources
After the conversations begin, the next natural step is to advise employees on where they can find the right level of support. Not all employers have access to Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) so if you are considering one as an option, these are a fantastic resource to have and promote within the organisation. The employees can also receive support from their GP, alternatively there is also the option of Occupational Health.
There are also plenty of online resources available from the charity Mind and Mental Health England, this can help promote positive mental health initiatives to get the conversations started.
Some employers may have a mental health first aider or champions, these individuals are able to effectively support on a practical level and are qualified in handling these sensitive situations, many employers are seeing the benefit of engaging such individuals so I anticipate that they will become a regular part of the future workforce.
The conversation doesn’t have to stop there, mental health is an ongoing challenge, there will be good days and bad days so being able to support each other during these times is important to creating the right culture, letting everyone know that it is ok not to be ok.