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Mental Health – Ongoing Steps for Employers

It was Mental Health Awareness Week last month,  where many of us stopped to reflect on our mental health and the steps that we are taking to address it. Similarly, many employers did the same – with initiatives being put in place across the week to support employees with their health. But it is important to have mental health on your mind beyond the dedicated awareness week.

 

The reality is that most people are reasonably good at taking vitamins, exercising and trying to eat more healthily in order to better their physical health, but often forget that mental health needs good care too.  Things that support mental health are often the first to go when people are under pressure.  It is easy forget to prioritise sleep and self-care and forget the enormous benefit that even moderate exercise can bring to good mental health.

The theme for this year’s week was “Movement – Moving More for Our Mental Health.”  Regular physical activity is known to improve mental health (as well as physical health). But office employees work in sedentary jobs and often do not find it easy to put down tools and step outside for a walk during the working day.  It is often easier for them to just grab something to eat at their desks. However, even a quick walk could make all the difference, busting some stress and benefiting both physical and mental health…especially if walking and talking with a colleague.

Encouragement from employers to pop out and go for that walk or run (or do whatever it is that would get people moving on a daily basis) is an important step towards protecting mental health in the workplace. But there are other things that employers can do to support its employees:

  • Encouraging a culture of open dialogue where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns, such as anxiety. This could include holding regular one-to-one meetings with employees to discuss their well-being, workload, and any other concerns they may have.
  • Training staff to recognise the signs of poor mental health, start difficult conversations and signpost those in need to appropriate resources and support (such as counselling services and employee assist programmes).
  • Promoting a healthy work-life balance by respecting boundaries, encouraging employees to take regular breaks and disconnect from work during non-working hours, and to use their holiday allowance.
  • Assessing and effectively managing workload pressures as an excessive workload and unrealistic deadlines can contribute to anxiety.
  • Ensuring job responsibilities are clear and manageable and that appropriate work is allocated.
  • If not doing so already, considering flexible working options, such as remote working or flexible hours. These kinds of flexibility can enable people to better balance their work and personal responsibilities, reducing stress and promoting overall well-being.
  • Thinking about implementing stress-reduction initiatives such as mindfulness workshops, yoga classes, or bringing in experts to talk about coping mechanisms.

Hopefully these steps will help promote the importance of looking after mental health all year round, in additional to the dedicated awareness week!

 

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