We all have encountered full effects on both mental or physical levels after more than a year of isolation and restrictions. The pandemic has had less pleasant consequences on the global economy, work and lifestyle in general, and on the mental health as well. Most managers are currently concerned with creating a work environment in which each employee feels safe.
Why is mental health awareness important at work? Well, all motivations, aspirations and power start with a rested mind, and the best performing employees are those who live and feel good.
We learn from the latest data that, in Europe, mental illness affects every fourth citizen, the most common conditions being anxiety disorders and depression *. Also, according to CDC weekly report studies from 2020 *, 40% of US adults face mental health problems. At the same time, more than half of them do not want to communicate with their manager about these issues.
If you are a manager, you may have wondered how you can promote the importance of mental health in the workplace and how you can encourage your team to talk about it. We can offer 3 useful tips to get you started:
- Learn to acknowledge the signs of health disorders
Symptoms associated with anxiety, stress and depression are becoming more common and usually are, natural responses to unusual situations. Therefore, it is important to be able to identify these symptoms and assure our colleagues that they are heard and will always be.
It is our duty to ask a colleague if he needs help when we notice that a member of the team is experiencing sadness, sleep disturbances, frequent fatigue, difficulty concentrating, lack of cooperation with those around him, for a period longer than two weeks. Only the specialists can make a diagnosis, but our role is to express our care, compassion and to give our colleague the necessary support for the period he is going through.
- Keep an open communication on mental health topics
Talk free and open about mental health, just as you talk about physical health. The power of example is the basis for building a relationship with your team, so you can share personal experiences, tips and cooperation mechanisms for specific situations. We are all vulnerable, but if we overcome the initial state of discomfort, we can find a support group even among the team members. When you show your colleagues that you also have challenges, you become human, accessible and, last but not least, a brave person.
You can thus actively contribute to reducing the stigma related to mental health, and the work environment will become one in which everyone feels safe. Don’t forget to promote healthy behaviors, such as finding a work-life balance, take breaks and make personal mental care a priority for yourself.
- Include mental health topics in your team’s daily routine
It is not enough to mention just once the aspects related to mental health, but, on each occasion, it is useful to remind our colleagues of its importance and how beneficial it is for them to talk about what presses them.
Less formal discussions, related to how each member of the team perceives the work environment, the activity carried out or the current situation, contribute to the consolidation of the well-being. Encourage your team to talk about the problems they face, ensure confidentiality and do not accept discrimination or bullying at work.
Encouraging emails, which highlight the results obtained by colleagues or messages in support of the team, are an important point of support.
A major impact on the mental health of the employees is observing their efforts and reward accordingly. An valued and appreciated employee is a happier employee.
And don’t forget, a simple question can help a lot. How are you feeling today? How is your day? How are you?
In conclusion, the effects of recent global events will be felt for a long time, and if we pay special attention to emotions and feelings, turning the work environment into a place of openness, authenticity and support, we will get favorable results for all involved.