Stop the press! Work is good for your mental health!
Lots of people find work good for their mental health for many reasons.
However it is also important to acknowledge that at times employees can find themselves feeling stressed at work, and this may be due to pressures in the workplace, but also may be due to increased stress at home spilling over into their work lives.
The first and most important step is making the commitment to treat workforce mental health as a fundamental part of the business.
It is vital to lead from the top and set an example. This can be achieved by agreeing a mental health strategy which promotes a culture of wellbeing at work. This should include assessing the risk of workplace stress and identify ways of reducing the risks through support and training.
Good stress management is vital to help employees avoid developing a mental health problem.
The creation of a mental health plan and communicating this across the business from board level down, along with the appointment of a mental health champion to promote positive mental health and tackle stigma, is a clear signal for change.
Implement simple steps to change the culture such as facilitating staff to take breaks, take part in exercise and provide a healthy environment. Organise company events to promote and strengthen relationships amongst the workforce that are inclusive to all members of the workforce.
Initiatives are most successful when senior management act as role models and get involved.
It is important that employees know how to recognise the signs of stress and the causes. Some organisations provide employee assistance programmes (EAPs) to give their staff access to free advice and counselling. Organisations may also set up a buddy or mentoring network.
Mental health tips for employees
If you are finding that you feel stressed because of a particular problem at work, here are some suggestions which might help you tackle the issue.
- Work out what you find stressful and helpful in the workplace. Once you know what works for you, talk to your employer about this. They may be able to make some changes to help you.
- There are many different coping techniques that you can learn and practice, such as breathing strategies and mindfulness.
- Ask for help. We all need a hand sometimes. Discuss your workload with your manager, set realistic targets together and talk about how you can solve any problems.
- Take short breaks through the working day. Make sure you take your lunch break and take time away from your desk. Try to get some fresh air as that can make you more productive.
- Develop a routine at the end of the day where you review what you have achieved, plan for tomorrow and tidy your desk. This helps you to switch off from work and enjoy your free time with a clear mind.
- It is important to look after your physical health. Regular exercise, enough sleep and a good diet all help to build our resilience.
- Take some time off. Use your annual leave to plan to have a longer break away from work and recharge your batteries.
- If you do not feel supported at work you need to find a way to communicate this. If you find it difficult to speak with your line manager you can talk to your Human Resources department or a trusted colleague.
- If you feel that you need some professional support you can speak to your GP. They can check out your physical and mental health, give you advice and guidance and also refer you to local resources for mental health.
- Mental health at work gateway https://www.mentalhealthatwork.org.uk
- MIND https://www.mind.org.uk
- The Stressbusting website and the Stress Management Society both offer information about stress and provide techniques for coping.
- The Mind Tools website can help you with stress management and assertiveness techniques.
- The Be Mindful website provides guidance on mindfulness, including how to find a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course.
- Mind’s Infoline can let you about support groups and mental health services in your local area.