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Coping with Mental Health

View profile for Stephen Gerring
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So, you are faced with an employee that is struggling to cope and whilst you had noticed some performance issues you thought they would work it out themselves?

Now they are unloading their personal issues, the recent divorce, the daughter self-harming, and the sale of the house. What has this got to do with me, you ask?

From time to time we all need help in dealing with issues that just seem too much to cope with in addition to the numerous other demands on our busy lives.

Talking about it with a trusted work colleague or friend can really make a difference to that person’s well-being if they can listen without being judgemental. Just listening is not as simple as you may think and Managers may feel the need to provide instructions or worse take inappropriate action to manage the perceived risk to the business.

Employers have a moral and legal duty to care for their employees that has been enshrined in law for decades and mental health is just another facet of this duty to care.

An employer’s duty of care manifests itself in many different ways, and with one third of sickness notes handed out by GPs relating to mental health, it has never been more important for employers, managers and HR professionals to know how to effectively manage and support employees with ill mental health in the workplace.

Despite increased awareness of mental health at work, employers have a growing lack of confidence in discussing mental health matters with their employees.

In 2009, 90% of employers felt comfortable talking about mental health with their staff members. In 2017, this figure was just 64%*. In particular, senior managers were less confident about talking to their employees than HR directors, while smaller businesses had lower levels of confidence than larger organisations.

So here are some simple ideas on how to let your employees know that your business is ready and willing to support and promote strong, mental health:

  • Ensure that all employees are aware of the policies and support available for mental health
  • Encourage managers, team leaders or HR to schedule casual, one-to-one meetings with employees every quarter, in order to check in on how they are finding their work-life and everyday tasks, as well as their work-life balance and how they are generally.
  • Offer flexible working, where possible. Whether this is flexi-time, giving employees the choice to work from home, work outdoors, in chill out areas, etc.
  • Where appropriate, involve staff in making internal decisions.
  • Encourage camaraderie amongst your workforce, be that Friday treats, monthly socials or healthy, non-work-related competition

Outset can provide assistance with the development of a workplace mental health policy, the provision of mental health first aid training and support your managers with the management of mental health in the workplace.

So let’s talk about it; no stigma, no barriers and a focus on positive outcomes without judgement.

If you are interested in attending a First Aid Mental Health course, we offer a variety of different ones depending on your needs. Our courses will provide knowledge on how to identify suspected mental health conditions in the workplace and the skills to start a conversation about them. Call 01622 759 900 or email for more information.

*Shaw Trust Mental Health at Work Survey 2017