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There’s no better time to reach out to your workforce about their mental health

An employee sat outside at a table looking at a phone screen.

In the midst of yet another lockdown, it is easy to see how this year ‘Blue Monday’ appears to be more relevant than ever. The third Monday of January has been given this title as typically it can be one of the most depressing times of the year due to reasons including the weather, financial struggles and the ‘post Christmas blues’.

Whilst there isn’t an exact science behind Blue Monday, it does provide the opportunity for employers to reach out to their workforce about the subject of mental health. Many people suffer daily with anxiety and depression. The current lockdown is likely to have a huge number of people at breaking point and businesses may see a further rise in mental health problems in their workforce. This on top of an already growing problem, means that employers need to take action now.

2020 has been a difficult year for individuals and businesses, and the challenges are set to continue long into 2021. If you haven’t already started putting in place a mental health strategy for your employees, take some steps this January to make a start, or review your current approach and build on it. Finding mental health support is not an easy task for those already struggling, so by being more open you will create a more caring and supportive culture for your employees. This will in turn provide a more committed and productive workforce. 

With work-related stress, depression and anxiety resulting in 17.9 million working days lost (according to the 2019/20 HSE figures), we know that it is an ongoing problem. Therefore it is vitally important that businesses are mindful about the impact of the pandemic on their workforce, and avoid putting excessive pressure on staff. Plus factor in that pre-existing mental health conditions can be exacerbated by work related stress and you can see why employers need to take notice. Pre-COVID there was an increasing awareness among businesses about championing employee mental health. Time to Change and Make a Difference both campaign to support employers with addressing mental health in the workplace and are looking to drive change. However there is still much more to be done, in convincing every workplace that employee mental health and wellbeing needs to be taken much more seriously.

Start the conversation…

Here’s some simple ideas to help support your employees with their mental health and wellbeing:

Remind employees to look after their mental health
This may seem like common sense, but when you get caught up in day-to-day struggles it can be easy to lose sight of taking care of yourself and checking in on your mental health. There are plenty of freely available resources and blogs that you can share with staff. Check out our blog - 8 simple rules for improving daily mental wellbeing. You can also share our downloadable resources below.

Set a time to have a one-to-one catch up with those in your team
A cup of tea and informal chat can go a long way to support someone and give them the boost they need. Whilst face-to-face meetings are not possible with the pandemic you will need to set up a virtual meeting. Instead of discussing workloads and deadlines, instead ask them about how they are feeling and have an open conversation about their mental health. The Samaritan’s Brew Monday encourages people to stay connected through a virtual cuppa. Listening to someone and letting them talk about any problems they are facing can help clear their mind. 

Appoint Mental Health First Aiders
It is so important to ensure that mental health and wellbeing is supported from the top down in any organisation. It is a good idea to appoint Mental Health First Aiders (MHFAs) to help support employee wellbeing, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be members from the management team. Reach out to all staff and ask if anyone is interested in becoming a MHFA. It can be a great way to offer support to employees and

Encourage your staff to take regular breaks
Check in on your staff and remind them to take regular breaks, including their full lunch break. Eating a nutritious lunch and getting some fresh air will not only help them remain more productive in the afternoon but it will help contribute to their general wellbeing.

Let staff know they can ask for help

Research indicates that 300,000 with mental health problems have to leave their jobs each year, with many not even disclosing their health concerns to their employer. This is a scary statistic and speaks volumes for why as a nation we need to be much better at removing the stigma surrounding mental-ill health. Make sure your staff know that they will be met with kindness and compassion if they need help. Open lines of communication and honesty are valuable traits and companies that can instill these into their culture will reap the rewards. 

It’s important to remember that looking after your employees mental health and wellbeing is ongoing, not just one day of the year. Taking steps towards supporting your employees wellbeing can make a real difference to them and even give your company a competitive advantage.

How can we help?

Our online mental health and wellbeing training courses include Mental Health Awareness, Building resilience, Managing Anxiety and Stress Awareness & Management, and offer employees easy access to quality information to support them with their wellbeing. If you’re interested in any of our courses you can start a free trial at any time to see their suitability for your organisation and your staff. 

Take a look at our free Mental Health & Wellbeing resources that can be found & downloaded from our website, including:

Mental Health in the Workplace (White Paper) 

Mental Health & Wellbeing Toolkit (Guide) 

Wellness Action Plan (Guide)

We are proud to be able to offer a range of quality resources to support organisations with addressing employee mental health and wellbeing. It’s a great place to start!

If you are looking to provide training, our online mental health and wellbeing courses include Mental Health Awareness, Building resilience, Managing Anxiety and Stress Awareness & Management, and offer employees easy access to quality information to support them with their wellbeing. Start a free trial at any time to see their suitability for your organisation and your staff. 

iHASCO's online mental health and wellbeing training courses
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