Awareness of mental health issues in the workplace has rightly been more widespread over recent years, with more measures being put in place to deal with incidents and minimise risks.
This is proven by occasions such as Mental Health Awareness Week which took place last month, the biggest opportunity for the whole of the UK to come together to focus on championing good mental health.
However, sometimes incidents with employees in the workplace can be challenging to deal with, especially without staff having much prior knowledge and training on mental health awareness.
The team at Radar Healthcare always ensures that employee mental health is an absolute priority. Therefore, they have provided six key tips on ways to deal with employee mental health incidents, in order to ensure everyone, especially the employee experiencing the incident, is safe.
- Know the signs of an incident
One of the key things to know to minimise the risk of a mental health incident is the signs and triggers. Some common behavioural factors and changes you might see are:
- Lateness to work
- Looking tired and withdrawn
- Change in work patterns
- Uncharacteristic problems with colleagues
- Short-term absences (if not due to another underlying condition)
- Long-term absences
If you spot these signs in an employee, an open channel of communication with them is extremely important, so you can minimise the risk of any potential incidents.
- Communicate openly and empathetically
Firstly, as an employer, you should encourage two-way communication channels, such as team meetings or one-on-one discussions. This will allow employees to have opportunities to express their concerns, ask questions, and share their experiences.
You should also acknowledge the impact of the incident on employees’ emotional well-being and validate their feelings. Let them know that their concerns are being heard and taken seriously.
Finally, be transparent about the steps being taken to address the incident, any changes in protocols or procedures, and the support available to employees.
- Offer support and resources
Resources and support for employees will always be impactful in decreasing the risks of mental health incidents, whether they are offered inside or outside the workplace.
These resources can include counselling services, employee assistance programs (EAPs), online mental health platforms, or mental health hotlines.
You should share information about these resources through multiple channels, such as company newsletters, intranet portals, or posters in common areas to ensure employees are aware of the support available to them.
- Ensure a positive workplace culture
Encourage a workplace culture that values and prioritises mental health. Promote open discussions about mental health topics and reduce the stigma surrounding seeking help.
Another thing to consider is regular reminders about the importance of self-care, stress management, and work-life balance. This can be done through newsletters, emails, or even workplace wellness challenges.
Interestingly, studies have shown that negative behaviours and attitudes within the workplace not only create a toxic working environment but a costly one too. A negative work environment has been shown to cost organisations $223 billion (about $690 per person) USD in turnover over a five-year period.
Research shows a strong correlation between employees feeling happy in their place of work and their company’s culture. Workers that consider themselves happy at work are said to be 13% more productive.
- Provide flexibility and a work–life balance
Be understanding and compassionate towards employees who may require time off or modified work arrangements due to the incident’s impact on their mental health.
26% of people in the UK have declared that management style has caused them work-related stress and 60% said that workload was the main cause of unhappiness at work.
You should regularly allow employees to take breaks or engage in stress-relieving activities during work hours, such as short walks, meditation, or mindfulness exercises.
Also, encourage managers to be flexible and understanding when considering requests for time off or adjustments to work responsibilities.
- Train managers on mental health awareness
Educate managers on recognising signs of mental distress in employees, such as the symptoms mentioned in the first point.
Managers should also be trained to have supportive conversations with employees, emphasising active listening, empathy, and non-judgemental attitudes. They should also be equipped with knowledge of available resources and how to refer employees to appropriate support services while maintaining confidentiality.
At Radar Healthcare, mental health is prioritised with the implementation of Mental Health First Aiders, who are equipped with the knowledge of how to act in a situation where someone may be undergoing a mental health crisis.
56% of people have said that offering mental health first aid training is one of the best ways to manage mental health at work in the UK. This is a valuable skill both in and out of the workplace, as it allows Radar Healthcare to have mental health representatives who employees can turn to if needed, and employees who will promote good mental health in their day-to-day working lives.