Mental health is just as important as physical health. The pandemic has brought this very important fact to the forefront and, more positively, conversations around mental health are becoming common place.
Whilst anyone can suffer from poor mental health, studies show that inequality and discrimination pose an increased threat. Those who come from ethnic minority backgrounds, identify as LGBTQ+ or have low socioeconomic status may be at a higher risk of developing mental health problems.
Underrepresentation, feelings of isolation or being subject to unequal treatment can all contribute to poor mental health. With a significant proportion of daily life being spent at work, the workplace has an important part to play in making a positive difference.
What is workplace mental health?
Workplace mental health has always mattered, but it has gained more visibility this past year due to the pressures of the pandemic.
Factors such as a heavy workload, fear of illness, redundancy as a result of the pandemic or feelings of isolation can cause stress and contribute to the poor mental health and well-being of employees.
A mentally healthy workplace is not just important for employees, but the wider business too. Staff retention, productivity, attendance, engagement, and company culture all benefit.
Employers have a duty of care to manage and maintain the health and safety of their staff. This includes assessing stress-related risks to protect workplace mental health.
Inclusivity helps to improve mental health
Workplace mental health is a broad term and there are many ways in which employers can look to improve this and the well-being of their staff.
Often, mental health support is provided when someone is already suffering, but preventative measures are important too.
For example, to reduce the risk of employees feeling underrepresented or isolated employers can consider improving diversity and inclusivity.
Employees with a strong sense of belonging are more likely to be happy and engaged at work. Whereas a person who feels excluded can become disengaged and unhappy. It’s important that all employees feel welcome at work, so that they can be their true selves and feel a part of something bigger.
From finding the confidence to suggest ideas in meetings, to taking on new responsibilities or working well in a team, inclusivity has a clear and direct benefit on happiness and engagement.
Making your workplace more inclusive
Social distancing created new challenges for inclusivity, but a rise in digital communication has shown that it is possible to keep inclusivity at the heart of a business, no matter the distance.
Small gestures can go a long way and make employees feel valued. For example, acknowledging hard work with a “thank you” or remembering important details about interests and hobbies to spark up a conversation.
Creating a culture of respect at work encourages employees to listen to, and be considerate of, one another. This should be laid out in a company handbook but also demonstrated in day-to-day work situations. For example, allowing everyone the chance to share their views in an important meeting.
Naturally, there may be times when colleagues don’t see eye-to-eye and tempers can flare. Training managers to be prepared for such situations can help to diffuse tension and create a safe space for everyone to feel heard.
Mental health support for all
A mentally healthy workplace is one that treats everyone equally and allows everyone to thrive. If you’re seeking advice on a workplace well-being strategy that meets the unique needs of your business, please get in touch with HR Dept Durham for further information.