It's Mental Health Awareness Week, with the theme of relationships.
I believe that there is a significant and positive role for employers to play in the support of mental health and in creating a working environment which promotes health and wellbeing. This is absolutely necessary considering people spend on average 43.6 hours per week at work. According to the Trades Union Congress, workers in the UK currently work the longest hours in Europe, take shorter breaks and have fewer holidays.
In light of this I'll be giving 5 tips to make your organisation a more friendly and 'healthy' environment. This will help support individuals, and in particular those experiencing mental health difficulties.
1. Be alert to people who might need help.
Quiet or reserved co-workers may actually be screaming for help. Be alert and recognise who or when to help.
2. Be sensitive to people’s needs.
Respect that your co-workers have needs outside of work. Foster an environment that encourages them to make contributions or requests without the fear of being 'dismissed'.
3. Provide opportunities for co-workers to connect and let off steam with some form of activity at work.
Social isolation is a huge factor in mental health. An occasional activity organised at work can help encourage better working relationships. An activity that has nothing to do with work, like a wellbeing day is great. Not only are you showing interest in wellbeing of staff but also giving them something other than deadlines to think and talk about! Does your organisation have wellbeing days? If not then contact
firstname.lastname@example.org to organise one or visit the website www.healthincheck.co.uk
4. Raise awareness of mental health issues in your organisation.
Make it okay to talk about mental health and wellbeing. One in four people will experience mental health issues over the course of a year, so most organisations will contain people affected, or their families and friends. In the same way you would refer a co-worker to occupational health for support with a medical issue; so also you should have details of service providers that can provide appropriate support and help, for people in need of mental health support. Raising awareness will encourage co-workers to come to you or speak out. You can organise mental health awareness workshops or study days for all staff as they can all benefit in one way or another.
5. Consider Gym membership for staff.
Physical health is very important as without this staff cannot carry out day to day task in the workplace effectively. In addition, physical health can also affect mental health. A positive effect can be achieved by having a gym in the workplace (if your premises allows for this) or an exercise room.
Finally, I'd like to leave you with this. Poor Mental health affects the sufferer just as poor physical health can affect the sufferer. The only difference is that one is not as obvious as the other. Let's start supporting each other because you never know who might just really need that bit extra TLC.
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