Health trends go in and out of fashion, much like clothing fads. However, a penchant for long skirts or cargo pants does not potentially risk the lives of the people concerned in the same way that health matters can. Today, fortunately, as well as encouraging employees to be physically healthy, businesses are more understanding about mental health matters, and are even prioritising the mental health of their staff in a number of ways. Let’s drill down into the topic a little more.
What is Mental Health?
There are two ways our heads can be unwell: physical damage to the brain, such as that caused by epilepsy and similar conditions, strokes, or head injuries. These can be controlled with medication, with lifestyle changes, and with permanent adaptations to the issues caused by the injury.
The other way is the one more traditionally recognised as being mental health: unwonted feelings of anxiety or sadness, being excessively stressed, or being frightened without due cause. Or even with due cause: living with worry can cause knock-on mental health issues that can exacerbate problems, sending the employee into a spiral of anxiety, poor productivity, discipline and potential dismissal.
Hire a Mental Health Officer
Just as Environmental and Health and Safety Officers were once unknown but are now widely seen in range of industries, so too will Mental Health Officers become a normal part of any busy office. The beauty of investing in one person to take care of all the mental health needs is that with the appropriate training, updated as necessary, the MHO will understand how to listen, encourage and gently guide employees who just need a little pep talk, while also being aware of potentially more serious problems that might require medical intervention. Eagle Head-hunters (find them at eagle-headhunters.co.uk) can find you the perfect addition to your team.
How Can Your Help Your Employees’ Mental Health?
There are a number of ways that you and your MHO can work to improve your employees’ mental health at work and at home.
- Have a welcoming open-door policy: listen to your employees worries and see if there is anything you can do to help them. Financial emergencies might be erased with a pay-day advance that is paid off over time at minimal interest. Caring for elderly or ailing relatives could benefit from a more flexible schedule. And sometimes, simply being able to articulate problems can be a huge help for the person: we often gain clarity in our issues when we can simply talk them through to a sympathetic listener.
- Arrange Mental Health Days at work. These can include bringing therapy pets in to spend some time with your workers – some companies in Japan have found that employees’ mental health is so improved by spending time with animals that they have full time ‘office cats‘ – or days away from the office, relaxing and socialising with one another in a non-work setting. This might need to be adjusted to suit your business and your employees, and can include anything from working through an escape room together to volunteering with a charity for a few hours. Anything that shakes up ‘the norm’ can be beneficial.
- Provide relaxation. Have a quiet room with comfortable sofas or a slouchy bean bags where your employees can go to relax for a while after a stressful call or on completion of a tight deadline. Failing this, provide spa day vouchers to deserving employees, so they can enjoy being pampered without feeling as though they must keep their work persona on, as they might on a activity day.