This month we mark World Mental Health Day and now more than ever it is important for employers to support their employees’ mental wellbeing.
With recent Government advice urging people in England to revert to working from home wherever possible, as part of its plan to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that disruption to the nation’s working arrangements will not change any time soon. And it has been well documented that this change has had an impact on people’s mental wellbeing.
Fittingly, the theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is ‘mental health for all’, recognising the impact the pandemic has had and will continue to have on people’s mental health. Although mental health is, quite rightly, now far higher up the political agenda, this particular awareness day dates back to 1992.
According to World Health Organization statistics, about 450 million people live with mental disorders and one person in every four will be affected by a mental disorder at some stage of their lives. This means in almost every work setting someone or several team members will at some point have a mental health issue.
Looking after, and out for, the mental wellbeing of employees isn’t just about ‘doing the right thing’. There is also an economic cost. The World Economic Forum in 2018 said that in every country mental health disorders were rising and the cost to the world economy would be $16 trillion between 2010 and 2030 if left unaddressed.
Working from home and mental health
At 24-7 Staffing, the recruitment experts based in Wiltshire, many of us have continued working from home since lockdown, so we know from first-hand experience how important it is to look out for our team.
There are many stress factors associated with working from home (WFH) – such as juggling childcare, and coping with a new working environment. These can lead to:
- Missing the office-based support network
- Feeling work has invaded the homelife
- Poor work/life balance
So what can employers do to support their staff? And how can employees help themselves to remain in good mental health?
Three ways to support employees’ mental health
- Improve communications. With so many WFH it’s vital to keep in touch. Of course, employers will inevitably contact team members to talk about work issues, but here we are suggesting talking beyond work ‘stuff’ and exploring how they are feeling and whether they need any more support. It’s about touching base and showing they are a valued team member. We’ve all got used to our Zoom or Teams meetings, so it’s easy to keep in touch. Show you are listening.
- Appoint a mental health first aider in your team and help them to complete the relevant training. This person can be the first point of contact in a business for a colleague to turn to if they have any issues. The first aider will also be trained in how to look for signs of mental health issues among their colleagues. Importantly, if you have a mental health first aider, or have any other resources in place to help your team, make sure everyone knows who and what these are, and how to access them.
- Schedule more social events. Quizzes over Zoom work very well, but you could be a little creative. How about cocktail making? Or cookery demos? Even charades. If your team have fun together – just as in the ‘old days’ pre-COVID - that will help alleviate some of their stresses and also demonstrate their value.
Three ways employees can look after their mental health
- Take advantage of any support your employer offers, such mental health awareness courses, or workshops/training in mental health.
- Try to maintain a good work/life balance. You may be working from home, but if you can segregate your work area within your home, it will feel less like the two have merged. Set boundaries between work time and leisure time, and use your free time to get out and exercise, or read, or relax.
- If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, let your employer know or reach out to colleagues. They will want to help and support you, or know how to access that support. Don’t keep it to yourself. Similarly, be a good colleague and support your co-workers; ask how they are feeling and if they need help. Communication is key to maintaining good mental health.
The message is clear this World Mental Health Day: mental health is on the agenda for everyone, employer and employee alike, and by talking to one another, and supporting each other – especially as we fight this pandemic – we’ll help promote good mental health.
At 24-7 Staffing, we specialise in recruiting for the driving, commercial, industrial and healthcare sectors, placing candidates across Chippenham, Salisbury, Wiltshire, Bristol and the South West. Please get in touch to talk about your recruitment needs. If you are looking for a new role, why not check out our jobs board.