Mental illness is on the rise globally, and in the average workplace at the moment, as many as 1 in 6 people are managing a mental health issue such as stress, depression, or anxiety.
As a manager or supervisor, you will know that if somebody is struggling to cope, their work output will be affected, and any organization will operate better when everybody is motivated, focused, and healthy. So, as an employer or a manager, it is well worth investigating the best ways to support staff members who have mental health issues.
Depending on where you work, there may already be a strategy in place to do so. If there isn’t (as is the case for smaller businesses), here are some tips on how best to support somebody who is struggling with a mental illness.
Create A Culture That Talks About Mental Health
Talking about mental health does not mean sitting down with all of your team and having ‘‘the talk.’’ It means being open and honest with your team if you are struggling yourself and encouraging them to talk when they are struggling as well.
There are in-work surveys and questionnaires that can also help managers to detect changes in their staff’s mental well-being and engagement that can be found at inpulse.com. In fact, using these surveys to keep track of your workers’ mental health concerns will be a valuable tool when approaching them to discuss concerns that you may have for their mental well-being.
As an employer, you are legally obligated to ensure that those who have mental health issues are supported at work, and this may mean workplace adjustments. Some of these include offering flexible hours, change of workplace, and, most recently, the importance of remote working and associations with mental health has been highlighted. So, if possible, it is best to offer this as well.
If you have a staff member who is returning to work after a long absence due to mental illness, it may be best to have a phased return as well as relaxing absence rules.
Extra Support (if needed)
Some people who have mental health issues do not want extra support in the workplace, whereas others do. This is why it is important to openly discuss mental health issues with each member of your team. Some examples of extra support may include constructive and positive feedback, additional coaching and mentoring, help with managing the workload, and mediation.
Create Action Plan
It’s also important to sit down with members of your staff who have mental health issues and create an action plan. This means devising strategies to help them to leave work if they need to urgently, being clear about your role in supporting them, and having a strategy in place if this member of staff does not turn up for work and also does not call in, which can be a common symptom of anxiety and depression.
Mental illness is not a choice, and it is legally defined as a disability. As an employer or manager, you will need to show empathy and compassion to any member of your staff who reports having a mental health issue. This can also make the workplace better for them and help build a more positive work environment while helping staff retention.