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5 ways to improve mental health in the workplace

We explore the new Acas guidelines on improving mental health in the workplace.

Earlier this month, on 10 October, it was World Mental Health day. In order to raise awareness of the issue and report on the new Acas guidance and the government’s ‘Thriving at Work’ review of mental health, we have set out 5 ways to improve mental health in the workplace.

There are numerous benefits to employers in helping to look after the mental health of their workers. In addition to any moral obligation to care for others, staff with good mental health are more likely to be an asset to their employer. Motivation levels, interaction with colleagues and clients, and performance can all be linked to mental wellbeing.

There are a number of ways employers can improve mental health in the workplace:

1. Ensure managers understand mental health

An employer that understands its staff is better able to support and encourage staff to be open about mental health. Managers should be trained to identify the causes of mental health, understand what mental health means and be able to recognise and try to erase the stigma associated with it.

2. Make a commitment to improve mental health

Acas recommends that employers should create a mental health policy that sets out its values regarding mental illness and gives practical guidance to managers and employees. Senior management should champion awareness of mental health and set a strong example to the employees at the organisation that will help get rid of any stigma attached to the illness.

3. Identify ways to improve the workplace

Employers can create a more harmonious working environment. Assessing work/life balance, tackling the work-related causes of mental health and providing appropriate additional resources when required is key. Trade unions and other employee bodies can also play a role in helping staff who feel uncomfortable in the workplace.

4. Educate the workforce about mental health

Mental health should not be a taboo subject. Staff should be encouraged to talk about mental health and managers should be trained to deal with mental health in order to have effective and productive conversations with staff.

Education for staff can be through team meetings, one-on-one meetings, awareness days or informal chats in the office. Newsletters and notices can also be on display to inform employees about mental health and what they can do if they feel anxious or under stress in the workplace.

5. Other places to turn

Further support for staff should be promoted in the workplace. There are plenty of organisations that can help both employees and managers deal with the effects of mental health as well as training them to deal with mental health in a better more productive way.

If you would like to discuss how to improve the mental health of your employees, including an appropriate policy for your business, please do not hesitate to contact Ian Machray for a free initial discussion.