Mental health has become a prominent issue in the modern workplace, with increasing numbers of people struggling to maintain their mental wellbeing while juggling the demands of work and personal life, with the recent pandemic severely testing our limits.
However, according to Yael Geffen, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty and staunch mental health advocate, for all the negative fallout from Covid 19, there was one significant silver lining.
“The pandemic brought mental health to the forefront which is where it should be and it also highlighted the fact that employers can and should play a vital role in promoting mental health in the workplace.
“If you think about it, most people spend more than half their waking lives at work so it doesn’t make sense that this aspect of our wellbeing is relegated to the time we spend at home, often exhausted after a long day at the office.
“All this achieves is to separate our working and personal lives even further and makes it that much harder to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
“And, from an employer’s perspective, the costs of employee disengagement, absenteeism and healthcare are too high to be ignored and, at the end of the day, a happy and healthy employee is a more productive employee.”
Geffen says there are a number of ways in which companies can foster emotional and mental wellbeing and ensure that their employees feel comfortable and supported in discussing mental health concerns:
- By creating a positive work environment – this is an effective way of reducing stress and promoting mental health. Employers can achieve this by providing flexible working hours, offering regular breaks, and creating opportunities for employees to socialize and build relationships with colleagues.
- Creating a positive work culture – one of openness, collaboration, and respect. Employers should encourage healthy communication, recognize and reward employees’ achievements, and foster a sense of community within the workplace.
- Mental health training for managers – this can be a crucial aspect of promoting mental wellbeing in the workplace. Managers can learn how to identify signs of mental health problems, offer support and guidance, and refer employees to appropriate resources when necessary.
- Employee assistance programs (EAPs) – these can provide confidential counselling and support for employees dealing with mental health problems. EAPs can include services such as counselling, therapy, and legal advice, and can be an excellent resource for employees dealing with mental health issues.
Geffen says that it’s also important for employers to be able to identify signs of emotional crisis in their employees.
“These can include things like changes in behaviour, mood swings, social withdrawal, and physical symptoms like headaches or insomnia. If an employer or manager notices any of these signs, they should take the time to check in with their employee, offer support, and provide access to resources and support services.”
While employers have a crucial role to play in promoting mental health in the workplace, employees also have a responsibility to safeguard their own mental wellbeing, says Geffen.
“This means taking steps to manage stress and anxiety, and making time for self-care and it’s easier than you think if you make an effort to prioritise regular exercise, getting enough sleep, practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or deep breathing, and seeking support from friends and family.
“It is also important for employees to set healthy boundaries between their work and personal life. This means avoiding the temptation to work outside of normal working hours, and taking time off when needed to rest and recharge. In other words, being realistic about their workload, and seeking support from their employer if they feel overwhelmed or overworked.”
Ultimately, it’s becoming more and more obvious that employee health affects more than just medical costs; that there is a direct correlation between a holistically healthy workforce and a productive workforce.
“Mental health in the workplace is a vital aspect of a person’s general wellbeing and employers can play a crucial role in promoting the mental and emotional wellbeing of their workforce.
“This will also encourage employees to safeguard their own mental health and by working together, employers and employees can create a workplace culture that prioritises mental wellbeing and helps everyone to thrive.”