They say that you spend as much as one third of your life at work - so it’s no wonder that our jobs can have a massive impact on our mental health. This Mental Health Week blog series has focused so far on the individual, however it’s impossible to deny that some of the responsibility of ensuring a mentally healthy workplace lies with the employer.
Whether you’re a large enterprise with thousands of employees, or a small contractor with a handful, it is vital to ensure that you create an environment that is open and conducive to positive mental wellbeing. To help us and our many business-running clients understand how this can be achieved, we’ve asked our friends at TradeMutt for some advice.
How can we, as employers or heads of business, make it more inviting for our staff to open up?
The key to achieving and encouraging environment that makes your staff more likely to open up and be honest about their mental health struggles, is to lead by example. As a leader, you’ve got the power to normalise mental health issues within your company. Because if someone of your caliber can struggle and overcome it, then so can they!
Be transparent, open and honest about what you’ve been through or what you’re currently going through. When you’re having a terrible day, let people know about it! Being vulnerable in front of them will make you seem more human and will help bring down the barriers. They are also sure to appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to get to know them on a personal level and feel like you truly care, which will make them even more likely to open up.
What are some practical strategies that my workplace could implement to better support the mental wellbeing of our staff? What can we do to raise awareness within our company?
While the possibilities in this space are limitless, here are some of the initiatives that we have implemented here at PlantMiner:
Healthy body, healthy mind initiatives:
- Making healthy foods available – fruit, vegetables, and healthy breakfast items are always available to staff.
- Free yoga and other exercise classes – not only great for our physical and mental health, but has a great team-building effect as well.
(Just some of the mental health initiatives we have implemented this year)
Flexible work arrangements - making it easier for staff to attend appointments (including mental-health-related ones).
The power of cute – our office allows (and welcomes) dog owners to bring in their pups, which helps not only make our workplace a far more fun place to be, but also gives staff the occasional much-needed cuddle break.
Sharing is caring – we’ve recently implemented a policy which permits employees to donate sick or personal leave to other colleagues, who may not have enough leave accrued but are going through a tough time and require some extra R&R.
As Mental Health Week comes to an end, so does our blog series. We hope that the tips, strategies and anecdotes provided encourage individuals and companies to be more open with each other (and themselves) about mental health and helps them work together towards a healthier future.
And remember – mental health is important all year round, not just during this one week. So please, continue to talk about it and do all you can to make your workplace a healthy and happy place.
If you have any concerns about your mental wellbeing consider consulting your general practitioner or contact the support lines at the bottom of this page, if you or someone you know require immediate help in a crisis.
LIFELINE – 13 11 14 – 24 hour counselling and crisis support.
MENSLINE AUSTRALIA – 1300 78 99 78 – 24 Hour counselling service for men with relationship or family concerns.
BEYOND BLUE – 1300 224 636 – 24 Hour counselling service.
SUICIDE CALL BACK SERVICE – 1300 659 467 – 24 Hour counselling service for anyone effected by suicide.
KIDS HELP LINE – 1800 55 1800 – 24 hour counselling service for young people aged up to 25 years old.
Disclaimer: We are not mental health professionals; however, we are all people and we all have a mind that needs to be taken care of. By talking openly about mental health, we hope to be able to normalise the conversation between individuals, and lead by example to make it easier for others to talk openly too.