Time to Talk To Your Employees About Mental Health


As home working has become the norm for most businesses, it has become harder to monitor the mental health of our employees. Home working in itself can exacerbate mental health conditions, we have seen a rise in depression rates and anxiety since the start of the pandemic. The proportion of adults experiencing sleep problems rose from 16% to 25% in 2020. With Time To Talk Day 2021 on the 4th February, it provides a great opportunity to check in with your employees and make sure they are coping. 

A small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference and positively impact employee wellbeing. Employees can feel reluctant to discuss how they are feeling with their workplace. Only 30% of workers feel comfortable talking to their manager about stress at work, which is why it is important to break down the stigma surrounding mental health. We have put together some tips on talking about mental health at work…

1. Create an open culture

Creating an environment at work where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health is really important. Establishing an open culture can be done through providing employee wellbeing days, offering mental health training and resources, managing workloads effectively and checking in regularly with employees. It is also important to offer regular opportunities for employees to feedback to you about when workload, culture and conditions are driving poor mental health. 

2. Keep in regular contact

Working from home can feel isolating for your staff, it is therefore important to schedule regular calls, (weekly or bi-weekly) to check in with them one to one. These can be in the form of more informal catch-ups as well as talking to them about work., Ask questions about how they are feeling and coping with life at the moment, make sure to actively listen and ask open ended questions. 

Keeping regular team catch-ups in the diary will help employees feel connected to the rest of the team and will help to improve employee wellbeing. This could involve a weekly half hour catch-up, a team quiz or a team coffee break.

3. Provide mental health training and resources

By providing regular mental health workshops and training sessions you will be opening up the discussion for employees around mental health. Equipping staff with skills on how to check in with their own mental health and the mental health of those around them is vital. 

4. Promote a healthy work-life balance

With the boundaries between home and work life becoming more blurred, it is important your employees can establish strong boundaries. You can help them juggle this balance by:

  • Being flexible around working hours, especially for staff who have young families.
  • Encouraging regular short breaks and physical activity.
  • Ensuring employees have a good home office set-up, all the equipment they need and are comfortable.
  • Allowing employees to switch off from emails after the day ends.
  • Discouraging a culture of working excessive extra hours.

The best way to open a conversation around mental health at work is to create a culture of openness and transparency.

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