- Embark on a transformative journey through the pages of Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace, unraveling the complexities of mental health at work with Gill Hasson and Donna Butler as your insightful guides.
- Take the first step towards creating a mentally healthy workplace—immerse yourself in the practical wisdom of this guide, and empower yourself to foster a culture that values the mental wellbeing of every individual.
The benefits of good psychological health in the workplace are undeniable. Individual productivity and satisfaction increase significantly in organizations that address their employees’ mental health challenges. Although well-being is a complex topic, educator and prolific author Gill Hasson and psychotherapist Donna Butler offer sensible suggestions and strategies for elevating mental health in your corporate culture. Their research, studies and anecdotes derive from companies in the United Kingdom, but their guidance is universally applicable. Companies with a limited record of mental health initiatives will benefit greatly from their insights.
- Smart organizations monitor their employees’ psychological health.
- To meet your workforce’s mental health needs, gather and analyze information from employees.
- Healthy corporate cultures prioritize communication with employees.
- Establish a healthy routine to ensure your resiliency.
- Take preventive measures to maintain your mental equilibrium.
- Within your organization, remove the stigma of seeking support for mental health issues.
Smart organizations monitor their employees’ psychological health.
Your work enables you to pay for your financial responsibilities while providing you with direction, structure and a sense of achievement. However, work also can generate a variety of stressful conditions.
That is why employees’ well-being and mental health should be critical concerns for all sizes and types of organizations everywhere. Despite the obvious benefits of having a job, the workplace can exert extraordinary pressure on employees and their leaders.
Dysfunctional environments beset with ineffective communication, managerial incompetence and unrealistic workloads can weigh heavily on employees – particularly if they are already dealing with stressful situations outside the office.
“People are suffering at work; they’re finding the increasing demands of work pressure untenable.”
Well-being is highly personalized, but both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Mind, a mental health organization, define it in general as the ability to take pleasure in life and to deal successfully with its challenges. Each person’s physical and mental well-being are inextricably linked. Individuals with health problems can experience harmful mental side effects, while those who have mental health issues can suffer physical consequences.
People with physical or mental challenges report that their work environment has varying effects on their sense of well-being. Experts report that approximately 25% of the population faces some mental health issues. A variety of factors – including childhood abuse, discrimination, poverty, disability, burnout, personal turmoil and workplace conflict – can lead to mental health issues. No ethnicity, gender, religion or race is immune, though certain individuals – notably, those who are 55 or older, the disabled, and those who identify as LGBTQ – turn out to be particularly vulnerable to mental health problems.
To meet your workforce’s mental health needs, gather and analyze information from your employees.
A study Britain’s Department for Work and Pensions published in 2006 concluded that work has a positive physical and psychological effect on people and contributes to their well-being.
“Work might be good for you, but what makes for good work?”
However, a variety of factors that corporate management controls can impair employees’ workplace experience and keep it from being beneficial. In particular, employees’ mental well-being may be compromised if:
- The company does not adequately support and encourage them.
- They don’t fully understand their role.
- They experience bias, discrimination, harassment or bullying.
- They experience conflict with managers or colleagues.
- They work long hours with insufficient breaks.
- They feel left out of opportunities or change initiatives.
Organizations and their leaders stumble when they fail to recognize the factors that have a negative influence on their employees’ well-being. Lack of enthusiasm, tension between managers and workers, pessimistic attitudes, excess criticism, and secret conversations are telltale signs of dysfunction.
Once you recognize which problems are affecting your employees, you can take remedial steps. To find out what issues to address, collect data from your workforce to analyze people’s attitudes. Surveys are among the most effective ways to gather this information. You may receive unpleasant feedback, but even that will be helpful if you sincerely intend to make improvements.
“Confusion, worry and stress occur when employees feel uninformed about what’s going on.”
Organizations in which senior leaders demonstrate their commitment to employee wellness invariably have a happier workforce. A survey of employee well-being at a London school found that only 42% of staff members found that they received the assistance they needed to do their jobs, while 20% said they lacked inspiration. Given this information, the school changed its approach to meeting its employees’ needs. Six months later, it conducted a second survey which showed that more than 90% of the staff “felt inspired to do their job.”
Healthy corporate cultures prioritize communication with employees.
Routinely check in with your employees about potentially troublesome issues that could elevate their stress levels. To build trust, update your staff members on change initiatives, new philosophical approaches and activities across all departments. Uninformed employees draw their own conclusions, which can add to an atmosphere of skepticism and wariness.
Encourage your employees to share their ideas and offer suggestions. Then respond to their feedback, because people who believe their companies aren’t taking their concerns seriously will stop making suggestions.
“Positive working relationships can be supported by social activities that bring people together.”
Don’t underestimate the impact of seemingly insignificant gestures that promote positivity in the workplace. Say hello in the morning and goodbye at the end of a shift. Ask after people who’ve been out of the office for a time. Instead of waiting to tell employees they’ve done a good job, foster a “culture of praise” that motivates them and reinforces open communication.
Make sure your organization does not tolerate any harassment or bullying. Establish formal guidelines to prevent unlawful behavior.
Establish a healthy routine to ensure your resiliency.
While you are tending to your corporate culture’s approach to mental health and well-being, don’t neglect your individual concerns. Take the necessary steps to build and maintain your resiliency, a critical component of mental health. Being resilient enables you to deal successfully with the pressure, stress, and ups and downs of work.
“Thinking about what you can do to avoid an episode of ill-health starts with knowing what could set off or trigger a decline.”
To strengthen your resilience and find a healthy balance between your professional and personal obligations, take these steps:
- Establish a time to leave work every day, and stick to it – Wrap up the day’s work a few minutes before leaving. To avoid obsessing about the office when you’re at home, jot down a list of what you need to do tomorrow.
- Establish boundaries for your availability – If people think they can communicate with you on the weekends or in the evenings, you may need to establish boundaries. Set up an automatic out-of-the-office email reply that indicates your schedule. Don’t answer off-hour texts, except in emergencies.
- Take a lunch break, and get away from your desk – You’ll likely find yourself in a better mood if you take a real lunch break even two or three times a week. If you can’t leave your desk, eat healthfully. Avoid sugary foods and snacks that will elevate your blood sugar and cause you to crash later in the day.
- You are entitled to vacation days – Taking vacations supports mental health. Some employees hesitate to take time off because they don’t want to burden their colleagues with extra work. Or they think that taking days off will diminish their value in their supervisors’ eyes. Remember that your colleagues and your superiors should take their vacations also.
- Consider a more flexible work schedule – Maybe your company will allow you to work four 10-hour days each week. Or perhaps you could work from home one or two days a week.
Take preventive measures to maintain your mental equilibrium.
People struggling with mental health issues need tools to cope with situations at work. It’s often helpful for them to keep a diary of events or instances that spark negative thinking. The first step to dealing with mental health issues is recognizing what triggers and patterns jeopardize your well-being. For example, people who are prone to anxiety may react poorly to heavy workloads or tight deadlines. They may have trouble sleeping, which increases the challenges of dealing with stress at home and in the office. Stretches of inclement weather or frustrating commutes may weigh on some people.Critical comments from a manager can trigger a cycle of stress and worry for others.
After you pinpoint threats to your mental well-being, consider what preventive measures you can take or request. Your employer may be legally obligated to make “reasonable adjustments” so you can function in the workplace.
You can also turn to easily available techniques and tools to bolster your self-care. “Mindful breathing” can lower your anxiety and calm your thoughts.Exercise boosts your physical and mental health. Physical activity releases chemicals that help alleviate anxiety and elevate your mood.Follow a healthy diet and stay hydrated. Too much caffeine during the day or alcohol in the evenings can exacerbate your stress.
“Avoid caffeine and alcohol, particularly when you’re feeling anxious or depressed. In the long term [alcohol] can make you feel worse.”
Try to wind down your use of electronic devices a couple of hours before bedtime. Monitoring email, texting, and watching movies or TV stimulate your mind and can fuel anxiety and restlessness. Manage the time you spend on social media. Staying in touch with others is nice, but social media can be habit-forming and stressful.
According to a 2019 study from the University of Exeter Medical School, spending at least two hours a week exploring nature boosts your mental well-being. Almost everyone can find a nearby garden or park. Try to build outdoor leisure time into your regular routine.
Within your organization, remove the stigma of seeking support for mental health issues.
Organizations that prioritize mental health for every employee realize better business results. Staff members who feel their companies support them are more likely to be engaged at work. They will be more productive, and less likely to leave.
Organizations must destigmatize mental health issues and treatment. Struggling employees need to know they can approach their managers without others shaming them. Conversely, managers need to know how to deal with troubled employees and how to refer them to appropriate helpful resources.
“Recognition of the need for management training in mental health and well-being is becoming more and more apparent.”
Anyone with mental health concerns should know that it’s okay to talk about how they’re handling their health, but some managers feel that getting involved with an employee’s psychological issues is above and beyond the call of duty. In fact, managers must ask for support in helping their employees access applicable resources. Managers will never have all the solutions or the expertise of trained specialists, but with training and basic knowledge, they can learn when they should consult with their higher-ups, HR personnel or other agencies about an employee who needs attention.
The sooner a manager understands that an employee is having problems, the faster he or she can arrange to offer help. Here are signs of mental illness you may notice as a supervisor:
- An employee’s routine behavior changes – An employee appears melancholy and not as focused as usual, changes his or her behavior with colleagues, or appears consistently fatigued.
- The quality of a person’s work begins to suffer – The employee seems to struggle to complete normal tasks, loses self-confidence and may apologize for mistakes other people make.
- A person’s personal habits change – The employee is late to work more often, seems to smoke and drink more, has gained or lost weight, or calls in sick more frequently.
Some employees may not display telltale signs of distress. That’s why supervisors must routinely check in with their staff members to reinforce a culture of communication and empathy.
“It’s up to the person themselves to decide who they talk with and how much information they want to share with their manager and colleagues.”
Consider arranging a meeting with an employee who seems troubled. Stay positive and assure the person that your communication is confidential. With the right support from your company, let your employee know that you and the firm will do all you can to help.
About the Authors
Educator and trainer Gill Hasson has written more than 12 other books on adult and child well-being including, Happiness: How to Get Into the Habit of Being Happy and Emotional Intelligence: Managing Emotions to Make a Positive Impact on Your Life and Career. Psychotherapist Donna Butler served as a registered EMDR practitioner at England’s Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, NHS Trust, and is now a consultant psychotherapist serving individuals, couples and organizations.
Table of Contents
1 Understanding Mental Health and Wellbeing 1
2 Is Work Good for Your Mental Health and Wellbeing? 33
3 How to Be a Good Place to Work 47
4 How to Look After Your Wellbeing at Work 87
5 Manage Your Mental Health at Work 131
6 Supporting Staff Experiencing Mental Health Problems 169
Websites, Books, and Resources 203
Find Out About Therapy 209
The Health, Employee, Learning and Psychotherapy Service at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust 215
About the Authors 223
Health and Social Care, Fitness and Dieting, Psychology, Counseling, Occupational and Organizational Popular Psychology, Stress Management Self-Help, Motivational Self-Help, Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Nutrition, Management, Leadership, Corporate Culture, Nonfiction, Mental Health, Business
Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace: A Practical Guide for Employers and Employees by Gill Hasson and Donna Butler offers a holistic exploration of mental health issues in the professional sphere. The authors delve into the challenges faced by both employers and employees, providing practical strategies to foster a supportive work environment.
The book begins by unraveling the complexities of mental health, shedding light on the prevalence and impact of various conditions in the workplace. It skillfully navigates through the delicate balance between personal and professional life, emphasizing the interconnectedness of mental health and overall wellbeing.
One of the strengths of the book lies in its actionable insights for employers. It not only underscores the importance of creating a stigma-free atmosphere but also provides a roadmap for implementing mental health initiatives. From destigmatizing conversations to establishing support networks, the authors offer tangible steps for fostering a workplace that prioritizes mental health.
On the employee front, the book empowers individuals with self-care strategies and tools to navigate the challenges they may encounter. Through real-life examples and relatable anecdotes, the authors create a compassionate narrative that resonates with readers, fostering a sense of understanding and solidarity.
The authors strike a commendable balance between theory and practice, making the guide accessible to a broad audience. Whether you’re a business leader, HR professional, or an individual seeking personal growth, the book serves as a valuable resource, equipping readers with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the intricate landscape of mental health in the workplace.
In conclusion, Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace is an indispensable guide that addresses the vital intersection of mental health and work. Hasson and Butler’s expertise shines through as they navigate this sensitive topic with empathy, providing a roadmap for cultivating a workplace culture that prioritizes mental health.