Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental Health is rightly so more topical than ever, as a specialist in internal communication events, I have often found myself crossing the boundaries into discussions with clients about more general employee engagement and welfare, so here are my thoughts for how organisations can support their employees. 

Create A Culture of Sharing:

When mental health problems are ignored, that is when destructive behaviours can start. Make it your mission, to ask everyone in your team how they are doing; taking those few extra minutes to allow people to offload a small issue, might prevent that issue from growing into a bigger one. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Change:

Individuals need to be alert to anything that can be driving poor mental health in the office, this might be things that are embedded within the culture of a business, or it might be certain systems and procedures. Put mental health at the top of the priority list, and don’t be afraid to change things. According to Mind UK, 60% of employees are more motivated to recommend the organisation if their employer took action to support mental wellbeing.

Promote Some “Me Time”:

It’s unrealistic to expect every single employee to devote 8 hours solidly to work each day. As an employer you want to avoid burn out, and as an employee you want to feel balanced and not feel guilty if you take your lunch break for example. The feelings of guilt, and the feelings of ‘how am I going to fit this all in’ can lead to suffering from anxiety. Organisations that promote this culture and that offer flexible working initiatives, have happier, healthier, and therefore more productive employees. 

The theme for the 2019 national Mental Health Awareness Week was Body Image. Poor body image is increasingly linked to mental health issues, particularly with social media playing a daily role in so many of our lives. This issue affects people of all ages, genders, sexualities and ethnicities, however unsurprisingly young women are reported as being the most vulnerable group. With our industry being dominated by this demographic, its important that we all spread the message of self love and care. Here are a few of my tips in relation to this:

  • Instagram detox: Have a break from Instagram ever now and again, it does wonders for your mind. I sometimes delete the app for 48 hours and redownload it, it can make a big difference to my positivity levels that week. 
  • Sleep: It’s a pretty obvious one, but do whatever you can to get enough sleep. So many mental health issues are linked to lack of sleep. I know when I’m tired I am definitely more stressed, I comfort eat, and I generally don’t feel great about myself if I haven’t slept enough. So be disciplined with your own sleeping hours, that might even involve asking your boss for the occasional morning off (especially if you work in this industry), for me, I would much rather an employee coming in fresh at lunchtime rather than blurry-eyed in the morning.
  • Relax: This is different to sleep. You need to do both. If you juggle a busy job and a busy personal life, and if you’re anything like me your brain might resemble a scrambled egg on occasions! Take micro-breaks in the day to relax your mind, to press pause on the internal conversations going around inside your head. I do this by taking a short walk for 20 minutes and listening to a podcast, and I find time every day to read my book, even if its just 10 pages in the evening before bed. 

I was known as a manager that supported the mental wellbeing of my staff, and now working for myself I know how important it is to take the little steps above to support my own mental health, but I am certainly no expert in mental health. If you, or you think anyone you know is suffering from mental health related problems then you should reach for professional help. There are so many great resources out there including the mental health charity, Mind UK.

Thanks for reading, and I am going to leave you with some of my personal favourite podcast recommendations so you can take your 20 minute walk later today and listen to something new:

The High Low – current affairs and pop-culture from Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes. 

How I Built This – stories from entrepreneurs and innovators behind some of the world’s best known companies. 

Hello Monday – a podcast from LinkedIn about the changing nature of the work place. 

Happy Place – interviews by Ferne Cotton asking celebrities ‘where’s your happy place?’

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