Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health problems each year, and while the stigma around mental health has come along leap and bounds, it can still be a taboo subject, particularly in the workplace. Also check Apark NZ.
As an employer, when onboarding a new employee or even carrying out executive searches for your next potential recruit, it’s essential that you set precedence from the get-go that you take mental health seriously.
As it is a difficult subject, it’s only natural that it be difficult to talk about, but alas, there are ways you can make the tough conversations easier.
Starting The Conversation
Many people will initially hesitate to open up about mental health issues, and that’s okay. Creating an environment where your employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health is an important first step to helping them address it.
If you are a manager or supervisor, it is critical that you set an example for your team. Make sure they know you’re there for them—and if they need to talk about anything, offer yourself an easy resource.
There are many reasons why some people hesitate or refuse to get help for their depression or anxiety: fear of judgment from coworkers, fear of losing their job if they disclose a medical condition, and not wanting others to know about their struggles.
But it’s important for both employers and employees alike not to make assumptions about each other based on these concerns—and most importantly, everyone should keep in mind that getting the proper treatment can have positive effects on both the employee’s well-being as well as productivity at work!
Although it sounds like an easy thing to do, it can be quite a complex skill. But if people come to you with struggles, try to be a good listener.
If you notice an employee struggling, don’t assume they’re trying to get out of work or make assumptions about their behaviour.
Avoid saying anything that would worsen the situation, like “You’re always late,” or “You’ve been here so long; you should be over this by now.” Instead, show them that you’re concerned about how they feel and want to help in any way possible without interfering with your work.
Look For Opportunities To Talk.
You may find it challenging to start a conversation about mental health due to the setting. So offering to walk with them during lunch breaks is a great way to get people out of the office.
Stepping away from the corporate setting may be the key to helping break down some of the walls built up by the environment itself.
Be sure to do this in teams as well as individually. Seeing another person express concern openly about their mental health issues may encourage others to do the same.
Don’t Take It Personally.
Don’t take anything personally. People may lash out or be challenging to work with when dealing with mental health issues. Don’t let this get you down! Instead, focus on wherever your relationship was before you notice changes in their behaviour.
You might remember that they were a good team member and always followed through with tasks until their behaviour began changing recently—and that means something important about them hasn’t changed at all! From here on out, keep an eye on these positive qualities and remind yourself that this person will come back around when it’s safe for them to do so (if ever).
Look What You Can Do For Them.
Ask them what they need from you.
This will let them set the terms for how much of what kind of support they want from the company—and it will also allow you to assess whether someone may need more than just emotional support at this time (for example, if their problems are preventing them from working effectively).
Also, if someone is struggling, discuss the importance of taking time off when you need it—and reassure them not to be afraid to ask for help if necessary!
It’s a good idea for companies to have an employee assistance program that supports employees who may be experiencing mental health problems.
These programs can guide how long an employee should take leave from their job, as well as information about what kind of professional help might help deal with the issue at hand. You might also want to discuss the importance of taking time off when needed—and not being afraid to ask for help if necessary!
If Still Not Sure What, Look To The Professionals.
Some circumstances can not only be overwhelming for the person directly involved but the employer themselves and you may just not know where to turn. If you have tried the above and still feel that people are struggling, it’s time to get in touch with professionals.
If your company doesn’t have an employee assistant provider or a mental health ambassador, consider discussing and encouraging how important it is that employees get treatment from professionals like psychologists or psychiatrists when needed and that you support this decision if it is something that you are willing to do.
Know that no person handles one situation the same and no one is always happy, and that’s okay. But there are ways to address mental issues while maintaining a healthy work environment. If someone is struggling with depression or anxiety, they need support from their coworkers and managers alike. You can offer them that support by encouraging them to seek professional help as well as offering your time as a friend or colleague willing to listen when they need it most.