Mental health is an escalating concern in the workplace, with one in four people in England experiencing a mental health problem each year, and one in six reporting common issues like anxiety and depression weekly.

Rising financial stress, the cost-of-living crisis, and work-related pressures are significant contributors to this trend, as noted by the Mental Health Foundation.

The latest CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work report underscores this issue, revealing that sickness absence rates are at a decade-high, with one in five workers taking time off due to mental health problems caused by work-related stress. To tackle this challenge, businesses must adopt proactive and sustained measures to foster a mentally healthy work environment.

Here are five strategies employers can implement to prioritise mental wellbeing year-round:

1. Break Down Stigmas Around Mental Health

Creating a culture where mental health discussions are normalised is crucial. Senior management should lead by example, sharing their experiences and promoting mental health initiatives. Encouraging open communication and actively responding to employee feedback can help address concerns and reduce stigma.

2. Develop Robust Mental Health Policies

Regularly review and update mental health policies to ensure they effectively address work-related stressors and provide comprehensive support. Policies should be well-communicated and tailored to meet the specific challenges faced by employees, aligning support mechanisms to their needs.

3. Education for All

Training for line managers is essential as they are often the first to notice signs of poor mental health. Managers should be equipped to start sensitive conversations and direct employees to appropriate support. Additionally, educating all employees on stress management and coping strategies empowers them to manage their own mental health and support their colleagues.

4. Focus on Prevention, Not Just Cure

Preventative measures are key to maintaining mental wellbeing. Identify and mitigate factors contributing to poor mental health and provide resources like mindfulness practices, relaxation techniques, and flexible work arrangements. Focusing on prevention helps create a healthier work environment.

5. Create Mental Wellbeing Pathways

Establish clear pathways for mental wellbeing support, starting with preventative measures and encompassing various touchpoints for easy access to services. This can include wellbeing benefits, insurance options, and Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). Clear pathways ensure employees can find and access the support they need without feeling overwhelmed.

The role of an employer

Employers play a vital role in fostering a workplace culture that values and supports mental health throughout the year. From breaking down stigmas to providing education, training, and accessible support services, companies can significantly enhance employee wellbeing.

Aligning initiatives with national awareness events, such as Mental Health Awareness Week, can further engage employees. This year’s theme, “Movement: Moving More for Our Mental Health,” emphasises the importance of physical activity for mental wellbeing. Employers can encourage movement through various programs and activities.

Investing in mental health initiatives not only improves employees’ wellbeing but also leads to a more engaged, resilient workforce and better business performance. Embracing these strategies helps create a supportive environment where employees can thrive, benefiting both the individual and the organisation.

For more detailed steps on promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace, visit Howden Group’s guide.

 

 

 

 

Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.