Now that Mental Health Awareness week is over and everyone has posted their yearly speech, what happens next? What are you doing to make sure that your teams’ mental health always matters, not just matters one week out of the fifty-two?

Mental Health can be a really tricky subject to tackle, especially if you have never suffered or had any friends or family close to you suffer before. Mental health isn’t something you can “fix”, but there are some things you can do to make the ride a little less bumpy. 

Below are some pointers to look at when improving your mental health procedures in the workplace;

  1. Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA’S)

Find your local training provider and get a couple of MHFA’s in your team. Choose people who have different levels of seniority, not just management. A lot of the time, staff don’t want to talk to a manager for fear of judgment. 

  1. Mental Health Days/Duvet Days

Take care of your staff. Almost 13% of sickness absence days are your staff taking sick days due to their mental health but covering it up as something else. Many businesses allow three duvet days a year; these are wellness days their staff can take to recharge to prevent burnout. This day gives them a breather and an opportunity to come back the following day to start afresh, without the looming disciplinary or PIP (Personal Improvement Plan) once they have returned to work.

  1. Learn

Take some time to learn about different mental health issues your team may have. These may include (but not be limited to) depression, anxiety or psychosis. The best way to help anyone facing any of these issues would be to learn about the correct terminology, learn about what you should and shouldn’t be saying and doing, learn the signs to be able to support from the beginning. We have all seen that “crazy” person making no sense, talking to themselves in the street and have all been told to stay away because they are dangerous. If you learnt about psychosis, you would know these people are very rarely dangerous; however, many people attack them believing them to be so; this would stop if people learnt about these issues, which may be outside their bubble.

  1. Listen

It is very easy to get preoccupied with your own life and be completely wrapped up in whatever you are doing and saying, but learn to listen to others. I am sure you are eye-rolling reading this but do you really know how to listen during a conversation? Or are you simply waiting for your turn to talk? One way communicators will find this harder to do than others, but truly taking in what a person is saying is gold. When talking to someone about their mental health issues, stop trying to be relatable, they need your help, they have come to you for support, they possibly need some guidance, you telling them a story about how you’re similar will not help them, hold your tongue and let them speak.  

  1. Be Kind

Don’t just be kind because the hashtag is viral, be kind because it is the right thing to do. Any hashtag is valid, but even more so when it isn’t trending. You need to make sure there is something in place permanently, not just once a year. If someone is approaching you in confidence, make sure you keep it that way. Confidentiality to key, if you’re a gossip, you’re fuelling the fire, if you hear gossip, nip it in the bud quickly, being kind doesn’t mean just to the person’s face but also when they aren’t listening. As an MHFA, the only time confidentiality should be broken is if a person informs you they want to harm themselves. 

At Iff Digital, we have a monthly catch up as part of our approach to supporting the mental health of our team. We all get together to discuss anything and everything. Openness and communication are key, we have our amazing core values, which we adhere to, and everyone gets involved. Our get-together isn’t always intensive mental health training; it is team building, a chance to learn about each other and how to communicate best, sometimes it is as simple as having Yorkshire Pudding Wraps together and just talking. 

Importantly, your mental health budget should not be combined with the social budget. It should be completely separate, as a pint after work won’t do much to help or be supportive. 

The brain is equally a part of the body, and we are hoping that one day people are taught mental health awareness and support at the same time as they are taught CPR; after all, both can save a life.

by | Jan 2, 2021