With 1 in 5 adults having a mental illness, there’s a definite need to make the workplace more mental health friendly. However, many workplaces only really focus on making their workplace mental health friendly around RUOK Day which falls in September. Mental health is something that should be thought about every day and workplaces need to be made more mental health friendly. I’m not talking about going crazy and putting inspirational posters everywhere or declaring to anyone who will listen that it’s ok to be not ok. But putting in the effort to change your workplace so that long term people feel comfortable about talking about their struggles is well worth it.
So how can you go about it?
If you’re a manager or in a position of leadership, look at doing the following:
- Mention self-care and mental health in staff meetings – during your regular staff meetings maybe do a check in and help make it something you talk about.
- Encourage mental health days – let your staff know that they don’t need a physical reason to call in sick, they can take a day off just to chill and recharge.
- Check in with people – maybe people aren’t comfortable telling you in a staff meeting how they’re feeling, so set some time aside to check in with them individually.
- Include mental health resources in email blasts – if you send out staff emails include an interesting link to an article you found helpful about mental health, or maybe sharing about a mental health resource you’ve discovered.
- Mention EAPs (employee assistant programs) frequently – many employees don’t know they can access counselling and other support services through the EAP. Remind employees that they can safely anonymously access these support services whenever they feel the need to.
- Plan staff building around mental health – get in a professional to talk about self-care or maybe do an activity that is focused on self-care. Did you know that Barty now offers virtual pour over classes which are a great way to combine mental health conversation and coffee?
- Look at ways on increasing staff morale – maybe that is doing Friday drinks, getting someone in to do weekly yoga or even getting a therapy dog in.
If you’re not a manager or supervisor, you might think that you can’t make a difference on your level. It doesn't take much to make a difference and it doesn't matter where you work or what your role is, anyone can make a difference they just need to know where to begin. Below are just a few of the ways where you can start:
- Be open about your struggles – maybe you’re struggling with a deadline or a new program or even working from home. If you’re struggling, I guarantee that others are as well and maybe you speaking up will help someone else speak up.
- Catch up one on one – it’s often easier to confide in people one on one, so if you’re lunch breaks line up or you happen to be getting coffee at the same time. Talk to your colleagues and ask how they are really going.
- If you see someone struggling talk to them – maybe on a video call, they are acting off or you notice that someone isn’t online much. Ask them how they are going and see if there’s anything you can do to help.
- Let your colleagues know that you are there for them – say to them and remind them that you are always around to chat and not just about work stuff.
- Work mental health into everyday conversation – don’t force it but if it comes up talk about it.
Even if at the time it doesn’t seem like you’re doing much, know that the long-term impacts of doing things to make your workplace more mental health friendly will be worth it.
Feel free to drop by, just say, ‘Hey Erin’ in strict confidence and you can be anonymous if you wish. Or, do not hesitate to leave a question in the comments below any time.