Mental Health in the Workplace
“Health,” as defined by most dictionaries, is “the general condition of the body.” Meanwhile, “body” is defined as “the physical structure of a person or an animal, including the bones, flesh, and organs.”
Thus, when someone is in good health, their entire body is in good condition and free from disease—including their mind. Indeed, good health doesn’t just refer to one’s physical well-being. It also involves mental, emotional, and social welfare.
This is why mental health programs should always be a part of a health and safety training plan for the workplace. It’s not only for compliance to certain labour laws; it’s also integral for the overall success of the business.
What Is Mental Health?
To fully understand why mental health is important in the workplace, it’s first necessary to understand what it is. According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is a person’s state of well-being, in which they are able to cope with the stresses of life.
Moreover, mental health also means that the individual realises their abilities so that they can be productive and make contributions to their community.
The issue here is that there is a wide spectrum of mental health, ranging from very good to poor. This spectrum can be influenced by various factors, including emotional trauma, genetics, and physical condition.
Most of the time, people are in good spirits and are able to manage their emotions and deal with the effects of stress. Sometimes, however, people may feel extreme distress. They may also be diagnosed with mental health conditions that may only be addressed by medication and therapy.
Why Do You Need to Invest in Mental Health in the Workplace?
As previously mentioned, mental health is crucial to the success of a business. For one, the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 aims to protect the physical and mental health of employees.
The Health and Safety at Work (General Risk and Workplace Management) Regulations 2016 also underscore an employer’s responsibility to protect the overall health of their employees. Thus, compliance-wise, it’s evident that you have to provide a working environment that promotes mental health.
Beyond law-related reasons, there are also plenty of benefits to be gained when you invest in your employees’ mental health. Here are just a few:
A person’s mental health status greatly affects their capability to focus and utilise their skills efficiently. Thus, when a person is in a good headspace, they’re also likely to be more productive.
Healthy minds are also more capable of thinking more creatively, critically, and quickly. All these factors are important when it comes to coming up with product and service innovations that can help give your business an edge over the competition.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
When someone is suffering from mental stress, the way they interact with others may be affected. They can be absent-minded or irritable, among other things, which are not things you want your people to be when engaging with customers.
With good mental health at work, your employees can easily maintain good customer service. This increases satisfaction, which can lead to higher sales and even guarantee long-time patronage.
Helps With Employee Retention
A worker who is mentally well is not only more productive but also happier and more satisfied with their work. They also tend to be more confident in their skills. More importantly, they are also more loyal. This can save your company thousands of dollars in recruitment and training costs.
It’s also easier for you to attract more talented workers if you put an emphasis on your employees’ overall well-being. No one likes to work in a toxic, oppressive environment, so those with more positive cultures tend to attract and are able to hold on skilled, loyal workers.
How Do You Ensure Mental Health in the Workplace?
The above-mentioned are just a few of the many advantages of a workplace that promotes good mental health. That said, how do you ensure mental health for your employees to ensure their well-being (and enjoy the said benefits at the same time)?
One of the best things you can do is to be someone who is fair and trustworthy. This way, your employees will be more open to discussing their challenges with you and you can then come up with solutions sooner.
It’s also important to embody good mental health. Take breaks and destress. Don’t overwork. Be a positive influence around the office. Encourage everyone to learn more and be aware of mental health issues, but do keep in mind that it starts from you.
Another crucial element of promoting good mental health in the workplace is to ensure safety and privacy. Not everyone is comfortable about discussing what they may be going through, and it’s up to you to provide an environment where they can feel safe.
Obviously, you shouldn’t tolerate discrimination. Put policies in place to handle such matters. Don’t make assumptions—they may need to be educated about mental health issues—but be firm about the consequences.
Finally, endeavour to be supportive. Create customised plans with employees so that they can handle their mental issues at their own pace and through methods conducive to their own recovery. Don’t focus on their diagnosis but rather on how you can help.
As an employer, the responsibility will always be upon you to create a safe, healthy, and positive workplace. Keep an open mind and remember that different people have different needs.
In the end, your ultimate goal is to succeed and this is easier to achieve with a healthy team working hand and hand with you.