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Mental Health Matters - 3 Meaningful Actions that support Mental Health in your workplace

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month and the importance it has on employee wellbeing, this week we are sharing our guidance for preparing, addressing and prioritizing mental health in your organization - on your journey to a happy and healthy workplace.

Mental health is part of our overall health. It’s about:

  • How we feel, think, and behave

  • How we cope with the ups and downs of everyday life

  • How we feel about ourselves and our life

  • How we see ourselves and our future

  • How stress affects us

  • How we deal with negative events

  • Our self-esteem and confidence

  • At work or at home

We all have mental health just like our physical health!


As we ride the long tail of Covid-19, Employee Wellbeing and Mental Health must remain a top priority to ensure employees work in an environment that recognizes and supports mental health wellness.


Here are 3 practical actions you can apply that get results that matter to people.


1. Look for the Signs & Symptoms


Familiarizing yourself with common signs of declining mental health will allow you to better recognize when your employee may need support or be directed to a qualified health professional. Signs can include but are not limited to:


· Decreased productivity

· Unexplained/Increase of absence

· Withdrawing from social gatherings or isolating themselves in the workplace (eating alone)

· A change in emotional state with observable highs and lows (frustration, cynicism, feeling overwhelmed, irritable, loss of humour, anxiousness)


Upon recognition of the signs, the right thing to do is to check in with the employee.


2. Schedule a wellbeing check-in with your employees


Before intervening, ensure that you have a plan in mind of how you would like to address your observations. Remember that mental health is a personal and delicate subject that needs an empathetic and supportive approach.


Schedule a catch-up with the employee in a safe space that is free from distractions. Ask simple and non-judgmental questions that provides reassurance and demonstrates genuine concern. For example:


Conversation openers

  • How are you?

  • I’ve been wondering how you are...

  • I’m worried about you. Lately I’ve noticed that…(state change of behavior)

Open questions

  • How long have you been feeling like this for?

  • Can you tell me more about it…?

Empathizing

  • That sounds really difficult

  • I’m here to listen

  • I’m here to talk when you are ready

  • It’s OK to feel what your feeling….

  • Thank you for opening up about how you are feeling

Offering support

  • Would you be open to seeing a counsellor/GP/psychologist?

  • Would you like help in making an appointment? We can do It together and learn more about It

  • Who might be someone else you could talk to? Who else could help?

  • How might you take care of yourself today?

  • What do you think about going for a walk, resting, eating…?

  • When would you like us to have a chat again so I can check-in with you on how you're doing?

  • What can I help you with at this moment?

Depending on you mental health knowledge and skill level, consider directing the employee to health professionals for further assistance or discuss a plan that will support the employee.


3. Integrate Mental Health awareness and support into the DNA of your business


Activities that you should consider to foster a culture of employee wellness include:


Implement an employee wellbeing policy that has the commitment of all employees, championed by leaders and managers. The policy should include outline how mental health is managed, what resources and support services are available, training activities for new and existing employees and well as the responsibilities for key stakeholders.


Destigmatize mental health. Check in with employees on a regular basis, face to face and through employee wellness surveys. Encourage and environment where leaders and employees can openly speak about their mental health challenges without any judgement


Include engaging activities to promote positive mental health. These can include:

  • Managing Stress/Wellness Workshops lead by health professionals

  • Set up wellbeing zones in the workplace where employees can recharge over a herbal tea, catch up with colleagues on a sofa or play a fun boardgame during their break

  • Practice recognition and words of affirmation, reminding employees that they are appreciated and valued

  • A workplace community of shared interests where employees can communicate hobbies and interests with each other and schedule workshops or events with each other – enhancing connections within the team

For further guidance or support in creating experiences that matter to people, send us a message at contact@perkypeople.co.nz and let's co-design a happy workplace together!

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