May 2, 2019
Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 13-19 May 2019, mental health is everyone’s business and this week aims to raise awareness of topics like stress, relationships, loneliness, sleep, alcohol and friendship. The average adult will say “I’m fine” 14 times per week, yet only 19% actually mean it, as individuals and as businesses we need to show we care about the mental health of those around us.
We hear a lot more about mental health in the workplace, these days, the stigma is not so obvious and the more we talk about mental health issues the easier it will become for those who suffer and those who support them. However, it remains a difficult topic for many, witness the fact that 30 per cent of staff disagreed with the statement ‘I would feel able to talk openly with my line manager if I was feeling stressed’.
Organisations that genuinely promote and value the health and well-being of employees will benefit from improved engagement and retention of employees with consequent gains for performance and productivity.
Help staff to cope
The emotional and physical wellbeing of your workforce are reflected in levels of absenteeism. Well-being at work encompasses general mental health and wellbeing in terms of levels of happiness, trust, engagement and “presenteeism”. Although the financial impact of these aspects of work is difficult to evaluate, there is research that links workplace wellbeing to long-term financial success. The culture of an organisation will improve when people feel safe being open and able to communicate freely being honest with themselves and those around them.
One of the things we can do is to help staff develop resilience and coping strategies. We run a lunch and learn session for clients which helps delegates to be better equipped to successfully adapt to change – be it smaller pieces of change or larger, more transformational change – by exploring resilience, health and wellbeing, and how to maximise these across different situations.
We also have a unit on Positive Psychology in which we talk about the individual strengths and skills required for developing and maintaining a position of excellence, while ensuring that psychological health is maintained and increased even under difficult circumstances. At 10Eighty we believe that positive thinking is about approaching life in a more positive and productive way as positive thinkers have more energy. Whether you see things positively or negatively, a personality trait called “dispositional affect”, scientists have concluded that those of a positive dispositional affect have more energy and enthusiasm than those who have more negative affectivity.
Support and encourage
Mental health should be taken as seriously as other aspects of health and organisations should provide full support for the mental wellbeing of their employees. There’s still a lot we can do when it comes to mental health, much of it around normalising discussion of issues so that people feel able to discuss their mental wellbeing. We also need to work at removing barriers to accessing the available support. The better people feel about their worth at work and the more they are encouraged to be themselves, the better they will perform and the more their productivity is likely to improve.
We know that if people feel safe and enabled to speak openly about mental health problems, this creates a workplace culture that is genuinely capable of handling different challenges and having honest conversations. For organisations, we know that investing in employee wellbeing can lead to increased resilience, greater innovation and higher productivity, and that makes good business sense!
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