Until recently, mental health has been shrouded in stigma. However, more and more, people are openly talking about their mental health and working on ways to prevent and cope with mental illness. People spend a lot of time working, and work often comes with stress. Stress can perpetuate mental illness, so it’s important to address mental health in the workplace.
Here are a few tips on how to support your mental health at work, and a couple reminders as to why it’s so important:
You need to provide a venue for employees to voice their concerns. If you show that you care about their problems and you want to hear them, your employees will find comfort. Create a safe space, and offer both a venue for them to air concerns anonymously, but also create an open door policy where they can speak directly to you.
Lead by example and show that you care about your own mental health. If you don’t take breaks and focus on your own health, your employees will be less likely to care for themselves as well. When you demonstrate that taking breaks and asking for help is a priority, then you’re showing your employees that it’s what you expect.
Schedule monthly activities that can help your employees relax. It will show you appreciate them, and it will also show that you prioritize their mental health. Sometimes it can be hard for employees to take breaks for their mental health, as they’ll often prioritize work. But if you schedule events, they’ll find it easier to take a break and decompress from work.
When you’re establishing an office culture, it’s important to be considerate of topics that some people may find triggering. You should create a safe space in the office so that everyone can feel included, and no one feels uncomfortable. However, you may not always have control of how one employee treats another, which is why it’s so important to be clear that you’re a fair and open listener.
If possible, designate an area of the office where employees can go to be alone, preferably in quiet. The workplace is often a high-stress environment. If employees have a space where they can go to recollect their thoughts when things get hairy, this will help them care for their mental health and return to work refreshed.
In the same way that you want to avoid a toxic company culture, you want to foster a positive, supportive company culture. Encourage teamwork and coach your employees on how to listen to others and provide constructive criticism in a supportive way. Your employees will likely have to have many difficult conversations with one another, but if you provide the proper training on how to make these conversations as positive as possible, then you can reinforce your employees’ mental health as well.
Of course, there is only so much you can do in your workplace to support mental health. Mental illnesses are exacerbated by stress, but caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. It is your responsibility as an employer to ensure that the benefits you provide cover medical care for mental illnesses, which may include a mental health counselor, psychotherapy, and/or psychiatry.
After centuries of dismissal, improper diagnoses, and sheer discrimination, more and more people are understanding mental illness and prioritizing it in their health regimen. As an employer you need to take the proper steps to care for your employees’ mental health. If you have any additional advice to share, comment below! Don’t forget to share your career story on UltiCareer’s survey to let others read about what your type of job is really like!
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