There is no one size fits all mental health policy in the workplace

By Clare Price, below, Director of Clinical Services, Onebright

Mental health is not black and white, it is a grey area, which is why there is no one size fits all policy for your workforce. Every day businesses implement individual steps to manage their daily operations and giving the same care and attention to implementing mental health support for your employees pays dividends. People are complex, everyone manages their workloads and balances their personal lives differently.

People prefer different methods of communication, and they showcase their strengths in different ways. That is why it is important for business leaders to recognise that no two people are the same and that it is vitally important all employees have access to a menu of different support when they are worried about their mental health.

How can businesses create procedures and levels of support to fit their employees and their businesses?

In order for businesses to implement mental health support that is credible, that their employees believe in, it is important for business leaders to champion and endorse it. By leading from the top and talking about their own mental health, business leaders and managers can cement a caring and trusting culture which in turn will encourage colleagues to speak out and seek help when required.

Prevention is key

Conversations can help to identify underlying issues and concerns that your employees have about their mental health and help you to gain a greater understanding of the support they may need.

Everyone within an organisation is responsible for creating a culture which cares about others. Encourage teams to stay connected and host regular check-ins which are conversational and relaxed, thus providing employees with the opportunity to talk about their work/life balance and anything that they may be finding challenging. This can help team leaders to see when someone is feeling overstretched at work and help them to manage their workload and work/life balance.

Be Flexible in your approach

Your employees will all have different ways of working and different ways of dealing with challenges. If an employee feels like they aren’t coping with their workload, they are stressed or burned out and need adaptations to their work or role, it can help if managers are as flexible as possible to help keep the person in work.

Look at what modifications can be considered in relation to someone’s role, such as adjusting hours, workload, tactics, breaks, or perhaps providing an employee with a mentor.

Encourage self-care

Mental healthcare in the workplace is of course very important, however, it is also necessary to encourage individuals to look after their own mental health and to encourage them to speak up.

Top tips for managing your own mental health at work:

  • Prioritise tasks
  • Set yourself reasonable deadlines
  • Leave on time and take regular breaks
  • Exercise
  • Stay hydrated and eat well
  • Provide space for strength-based learning
  • Focus on what you love about your job
  • Think about what type of person you want to be at work

How can you ensure employees know how to find help?

Signpost people to a mental health first aider in your organisation or an employee assistance programme if you have one. Perhaps look to integrate a page on your intranet or employee communications system about how people can access national support – such as NHS Mental Health, Mind, Samaritans – check that the organisations are credible and based on evidenced-based solutions.

Ensure all employees are aware of the support available to them, putting practical and easy-to-understand steps in place will act as a signpost for your team and ensure that everyone knows who they can reach out to.

Business leaders should not try to solve something that doesn’t need to be solved, instead perhaps shift your focus into creating a workplace culture which can be adapted to help all of your employees. Be flexible and approachable.