10thOctober is World Mental Health Day, and that’s why this week we’re going to talk at length about this problem. Granted that the awareness of mental health is increasing among people, however, we cannot be oblivious to the fact that the society still stigmatizes the problems associated with it. People are still shying away from admitting they have mental health issues, they are still hesitant to discuss it.
We spend a major part of our waking hours at work and therefore, how we spend our time working, how happy and fulfilled we feel at work are extremely important factors to ensure our overall wellbeing. If people are happy, their work and productivity benefit from it. If the people who suffer from mental health issues don’t receive timely treatment and care, the problem may aggravate severely affecting their performance at work.
In some cases the causes of mental health problems may be related to work, personal issues, trauma, combination of multiple problems or due to some other unknown factors. As a manager or an employer, one cannot afford to ignore the problem of mental health affecting the working population.
It’s a proven fact that organizations that care for their employees have a higher percentage of highly-skilled, productive and happy employees. So, what can you do as employers to promote mental health among the people that you work with?
- Accept it as a problem
Like we mentioned earlier, we are yet to fully accept mental health problems as a health problem just like typhoid, malaria or diabetes. The problem is real and the number of people suffering from it is more than we think. The first step to promote mental health of your employees is to accept this as a real health problem.
Encourage discussions around this, stress on the importance of getting professional help and treatment in this regard. Ensure your people that you’re always open for a discussion whenever they need to talk about it.
- Facilitate information sharing
Conduct regular sessions and talks with mental healthcare professionals so that your people know what mental health is all about, how to take care of it and what should be done in case they suffer from the mental health problems. Also, provide them guidance and information about whom they can reach out to for help, within as well as outside of the organization, should they require to talk to someone or undergo therapy or treatment.
- Provide mental health cover in your healthcare plans
Talk to your health insurance provider and try to cover the treatment for mental health problems such as therapy and medication in your employee health benefit programmes. This would come as a huge assurance for your employees that you are serious about their wellbeing and doing all you can to help them.
- Regular check-ins and discussions
Along with the performance reviews, schedule a time in a month or whatever period you want, to check on your people. To understand if they are too stressed, to enquire about their wellbeing, including their mental wellbeing. While doing this, please be sure to not pressurize them to talk about the things that they’re not comfortable sharing
- Keep a tab on their work hours
Work can get overwhelming at times, and we might end up spending more time than we should in our office. The best people to tackle this issue are the managers, who can reassign or delegate the work if it becomes too much for one person, or set reasonable deadlines. Encourage your team to take recreational breaks from time to time and make time for breathing and stretching exercises to help them manage their stress and relax their mind through the day.
- Accommodate their requests
People dealing with mental health issues can often benefit from breaking their routine. Therefore, if you feel an employee can use a day off or if they request you for one, try your best to accommodate such requests. Try and do whatever it is in your capacity to help your team navigate the mental and emotional challenges they face.
No one is immune from mental health problems. It’s not about being strong or in control of your mind. Sometimes, it gets too much and it’s only normal to feel low. But, with some help, we can bounce back. And if that help comes from our bosses and managers, from the organizations that we work for, our will to get up and get better becomes even stronger. Let your employees know you care for them!