Looking after our mental health is just as important as looking after our physical health. And just like our body, our minds can also become unwell. Keeping stress levels at work in check is vital to keeping your mental health in good condition, but often organisations don’t know how to do that.

Mental health problems are a lot more common than we all think. Although not as immediately obvious as a bandage or a scar, the effects can be just as serious, if not more.

Dealing with a mental health issue is not easy, and telling others about it is even harder because of the stigma attached to it. Even trying to discuss issues with family members can be difficult and lead to further frustrations when their reaction isn’t as hoped. This can then spill into the workplace, often with no prior warning. It’s important to be prepared in the event it happens to one of your employees, and know how to best handle it.

It shouldn’t be awkward or difficult – a simple ‘how are you doing’ can go a long way.

What does this mean for employees?

  • Fatigue or sense of feeling lethargic
  • Impaired judgement and decision making
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling depressed, anxious, nervous or afraid
  • Increased risks of accidents
  • Disruption to relationships at home and work – maybe behaviours which are out of character
  • Taking more sick days

What does this mean for the employer?

  • Loss of productivity
  • High absenteeism and possible increased costs of covering sick leave
  • Sensitivity within the workplace which needs managing
  • Increased employee turnover

Employers need to create an open and positive environment free from discrimination. The first step to doing this is to increase awareness of employee well being:

  • Looking at management capabilities and invest in their training
  • Having guidelines and policies in place relating to mental health in the workplace and communicating them openly
  • Introducing Flexible Working
  • Helping individuals seek professional help

If you want to be prepared for instances such as this before they arise, get in touch with us here.

Case Study – First Hand Experience

At Tassic, we’ve been called in to help resolve situations involving employee mental health that have gone wrong. We typically come across instances of failure from management to identify what support or reasonable adjustments can be made to assist an employee.

Sometimes managers won’t spot the issue as being related to mental wellbeing, and will instead see the solution as transferring employees to a different location or department.

In a recent case within the Financial Services sector an employee experiencing severe stress was asked to move but refused. The employee then faced hostile behaviour and bullying from their manager. Unfortunately this only exacerbated the issue, resulting in an employee who didn’t feel comfortable discussing their mental health and ultimately a constructive dismissal case.

This situation could have been avoided with the right level of support and advice. So how could a better solution have been found? A good starting point is to have early discussions with the employee in relation to their job role and the following factors to encourage an open dialogue:

  • Work demand
  • Control
  • Support
  • Work relationships
  • Role
  • Changes
If you think a team member is experiencing a mental health issue, you may need to take the lead and raise this with them.

It is all about awareness!

Employers and managers are key when promoting a proactive, open and supportive culture. They should know their team and notice changes in them. However, everyone’s experience of a mental health issue is different and there may not always be an outward sign. This is why it’s so vital for employees to feel confident enough to talk to their managers, or professional services such as occupational health or HR, about their well being without fear.

Take Action

If you think a team member is experiencing a mental health issue, you may need to take the lead and raise this with them. It shouldn’t be awkward or difficult – a simple ‘how are you doing’ can go a long way. Establish an open line of communication, be understanding of their concerns and think of appropriate support they may benefit from.

Show your employees you’re committed to their well-being by developing the culture necessary to build a healthy and happy team. Start today by bringing in one of our HR experts to discuss the employer’s role in managing mental health issues.

Look after employee well-being