The mental health of employees is a crucial part in the success of a business. Boss’ may think that their employee’s wellbeing and mental health is not their business, when in actual fact, their communication and productivity is influenced by the way they think, feel and behave. If an employee is suffering with depression, anxiety and is struggling with personal difficulties – this can severely impact them and their symptoms can deteriorate as time progresses.
An employer taking the first steps to support an employee with their mental health could be the solution to improving their wellbeing as well as their performance at work.
It is not the answer for all mental health problems, as there are other factors such as genetics, trauma, and life experiences that could impede on their recovery. However, by taking action and promoting mental health, this could be the help your employee may need to help them build resilience and mental strength.
1. Promote a balance in work and personal life.
Expecting employees to work late or praising them on this may impact your company in the long-term. They will most likely burn out from stress, pressure or anxiety as they think they must always withhold this high expectation of themselves and please their employer. Productivity and performance is likely to decline leading to many other difficulties such as anxiety and depression.
Encourage employees to use their annual leave, take vacations, switch their work phone off and refrain from checking emails out of hours. Do not expect your employee to be on call if they are not contracted to do so.
Insist employees develop hobbies or engage in activities they enjoy on evenings or the weekend, spending time with their loved ones and take care of themselves.
2. TALK about Mental Health In The Workplace
Discuss mental health related topics such as depression, anxiety and stress – normalize that everyone struggles from time to time and this can be discussed with you confidentially should they be struggling.
Prioritise educating your employees on the signs and symptoms of mental health problems, discuss solutions and how to respond when facing a difficult time. An approachable genuine and caring employer could be the stepping stone for an employee to seek professional help.
Stress, worry and depression is not solved by just going to a therapist, the organisation’s culture makes the real difference.
3. Prioritise Wellness
Explore different options of improving mental health. Eating healthily, exercising, and going for a walk on their lunch break. Creating a wellness program for employees could also be an opportunity to encourage employees to prioritise their mental health.
4. Create Mental Health Awareness Through Workshops
Educate and raise awareness on mental health to your staff on depression, anxiety, self-care, resilience and stress management. A half day workshop on mental health provided by a therapist could be insightful for your employees to recognise the symptoms of mental health problems and encourage them to incorporate healthy coping strategies into their daily life.
5. Support employees’ efforts to get help.
A boss can make a major difference to colleagues with mental health problems.
Seeking help and going to a therapist should be equally important as going to the doctor. Employees may feel ashamed asking for time off due to their mental health. Make it clear to employees it is equally important to take care of their mental health as it is for their physical health. A boss is in a privileged position, a big part of the role is being a mentor, helping solve problems that may be worrying a colleague.
Wherever possible, let colleagues fit work in around their lives. Options could be reducing their hours, working from home some days, offering a flexible work schedule for them to attend therapy appointments. The goal should be that employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health and they understand they will not be penalized for taking care of their mental health.
Make sure every colleague feels part of the team – being included helps them feels safe and will build their confidence.
6. Reducing the Stigma on this taboo subject.
There is still a stigma around mental health globally. In some countries in it is comfortably discussed and there is a lot of support, whereas in others it is still a taboo subject. By opening up and talking about it more to your employees, you may be surprised to see how many people come forward who have struggled or are still silently suffering.
Building that trust and ensuring employees are aware they can speak to you in confidence is the first step of breaking the stigma around mental health in the Caribbean.
Every workplace should create a happy community – giving a safe place for colleagues who look forward to coming to work.