The World Health Organisation has designated 10 October every year World Mental Health Day, and this year the theme is “mental health in the workplace”. That makes it a great time to talk about spreading awareness of both the day and mental health itself at work.
Here are a few things you can talk about with colleagues, employees or management to improve your workplace’s approach to mental health.
Brainstorm ways to improve the mental health environment.
Workplaces with good environments for mental health see an increase in worker productivity, where places that don’t promote good mental health can see an increase in absenteeism, substance abuse problems and both physical and mental health problems among staff.
So set aside some time and bring together workers from across your company. Have everyone think about ways the company can improve the mental health environment and support workers who have mental health issues.
Ask your colleagues how they are, and really listen.
Often mental health problems occur not all at once, but slowly over time. You can help support your colleagues’ and employees’ mental health by asking how they are coping and really listening to the answer. Simply listening can help prevent more serious problems down the line.
Try not to ask “How are you?” or “How are you managing?” People instinctively know to answer these questions with positive answers that don’t give anything away. Instead, ask about specifics. Are they struggling with anything specifically? Can you work out a plan together that can help them with that problem? Let them know they can talk to you if they ever need to vent or get support.
Talk about your own struggles with mental health.
Obviously, you should only do this if you feel comfortable with it, but often people with mental health problems feel isolated and like no one will understand. If you are happy to stand up and talk frankly about your own mental health problems, it can help others feel less alone. And as more workers at your company open up, it can help you feel less alone, too. It can also de-stigmatise the issue within more conservative workplaces.
Bring in a World Mental Health Day cake.
This is a bit flippant, sure, but one great way to gather together a bunch of workers is to bring in a treat. That will give you the crowd you need to kick off discussions, and the decorations will help direct the conversations.
Support a mental health charity.
Lots of charities around the UK are participating in World Mental Health Day. The Mental Health Foundation, Mind and Time for Change have lots of ways for you to get involved and support their work. This includes finding ways to improve your company’s environment, looking at tips for staying healthy at work, discovering the benefits of a mentally heathy workforce and, of course, donating to help these charities in their important work all year long.
These five tips can really help improve your work environment, your mental health and the mental health of others. Talking openly about mental health is a great first step, but make sure you leverage the momentum of the day to make real, positive changes in the workplace. We promise you’ll see the difference.