This year’s World Mental Health Day theme is making mental health and well-being a global priority for all. At onefourzero, we believe that prioritising well-being in the workplace is non-negotiable. Sadly, many people struggle with their mental health—according to MIND, a charity close to us here, approximately one in four people in the United Kingdom will experience a mental illness each year. Consequently, workplace well-being and mental health have moved to the top of the agenda for many organisations.
So, how can we prioritise mental health and well-being in the workplace?
Appoint Trained Mental Health First Aiders
Employers have a duty of care to look after their health, safety and well-being. One of the best ways to help team members with their mental health and well-being is to designate at least one Mental Health First Aider. Several onefourzero team members are Mental Health First Aiders and Mental Health First Aid Responders, trained by St. John’s Ambulance. The organisation offers mental first aid training, delivering a practical approach to mental health first aid based on real-life scenarios. The role of a Mental Health First Aider in a work setting is to be a point of contact for team members who are experiencing a mental health issue. And a Mental Health First Aid Responder can respond to an immediate or imminent crisis.
Mental Health First Aiders and Responders are taught to recognise the early signs and symptoms of workplace mental health illnesses. They’ll also have the skills to have supportive and non-judgemental conversations with those who need help. The role requires the Mental Health First Aider to possess the knowledge and confidence to help colleagues find the appropriate professional support if they need it.
Joseph O’Grady, Operations Executive at onefourzero, explained why the role is important. He said: “I became a mental health first aider because these days everyone has either suffered with mental health themselves or have had a loved one who has, especially following on from the pandemic. As a result, we all can understand what it is like and know that sometimes you just need a bit of extra support or someone to talk to. The mental health first aider role fills this well in the office, allowing people to have a friendly ear. It’s made better by the fact that we have a team of us so that we can share the burden and not have everything fall on the shoulders of one individual.”
Encourage Open Communication
Promoting an open and supportive working environment where employees feel psychologically safe communicating with colleagues and managers is a vital way to nurture team mental health and well-being. Open communication will help to prevent problems from getting out of hand and allow team members to seek help when they need it, either from a Mental Health First Aider or their manager.
Promote Work-Life Balance
All workplaces should promote a work-life balance. Post-pandemic, more workers said they were attracted to their current role for the work-life balance rather than the salary. Promoting a good work-life balance reduces the chance that team members become overwhelmed or stressed. This can be done by allowing flexible and hybrid working, providing time off for personal commitments, and encouraging team members to take regular breaks.
Encourage a Healthy Lifestyle
Workplaces should encourage a healthy lifestyle by providing job benefits such as healthy food options in the office, discounted gym memberships and cycle-to-work schemes. Eating better and exercising are proven ways to support personal well-being, and making healthy food and exercise more accessible to your team will help them embrace a healthy lifestyle.
Focus on Team Building
Strong teams are essential for a healthy workplace. To nurture well-being among team members, focus on team-building activities. Encourage activities and meet-ups that allow team members to get to know each other a little better. In the age of hybrid working, some team members may be feeling lonely and isolated. Organising social events and weaving well-being activities into team meetings will get people to interact with each other more.
For example, make meetings something to look forward to. Perhaps you could do team check-ins, where you ask team members questions about how they’re feeling. For example, it could be as simple as asking: ‘What is currently bringing you joy? And what isn’t?’. That way, team members have the option to discuss work matters or pivot their answer away from work if they’re not comfortable voicing their feelings in front of others. Another great way to nurture the well-being of your team is to recognise people for their great work. It might be as easy as picking a stand-out employee to congratulate and thank at the beginning of the meeting.
Nurturing team members’ mental health and well-being should be a priority for all workplaces. By introducing Mental Health First Aiders and Responders, encouraging open communication, promoting work-life balance, encouraging a healthy lifestyle and focusing on team building, organisations of all kinds can help their teams prioritise their mental and physical health.
“It’s so important to provide support at all levels of a company – you never know who might need someone to talk to, and talking really can make the world of difference.” ~ Fleur Hicks, CEO.
If you are struggling and want to talk right now, please contact The Samaritans who can help you get through these moments. There is also support guidance available from Mind to help you find the right long term support.