What is Mental Health?
Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual is able to cope with the normal stresses of life, work productively and fruitfully, and make a contribution to his or her community. Mental health care is essential to a person’s well-being and is closely linked to physical health. Mental health disorders can impact a person’s ability to study and socialize.
Mental health disorders can be caused by an unhealthy work environment and can, in turn, impact a person’s ability to work effectively. Employers, therefore, have a responsibility and interest in creating a mentally healthy workplace.
The Importance of a Mentally Healthy Workplace
A mentally healthy workplace is one where employees feel supported and are able to thrive. It is a place where employees feel comfortable discussing mental health issues and where there is support available for those who need it. This is important because mental health problems can affect anyone, and, as mentioned earlier, they can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to work. A mentally healthy workplace can also help to reduce the stigma around mental health issues and can provide employees with the support they need to stay healthy and productive.
How to Create a Mentally Healthy Workplace
As an employer, there are various steps that you can take to promote mental health in the workplace. These include:
Providing employees with access to mental health resources and information on how to get help if they are struggling. If you have an Employee Assistance Programme (“EAP”) that provides mental health support, communicate this information to your employees and encourage them to make use of it.
Creating a culture of inclusion and respect that starts from the top. This can be done by promoting open communication about mental health and creating a safe and supportive environment for doing so. It is also important that the company educate employees about mental health and implement policies and procedures that support employees with mental health conditions.
Promoting a healthy work-life balance. In recent years, we have seen the rise of ‘hustle culture’, celebrating those who spend inordinate amounts of time at work and take little to no breaks and vacations. This mentality is counterproductive in the long run as it can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout amongst employees. As an employer, you can promote a mentally healthy workplace by encouraging employees to also focus on other areas of their life outside work. Employees should also be encouraged to take regular breaks and consume their leave entitlements.
The Challenges of Creating a Mentally Healthy Workplace
While there are definite steps that can be taken to better workplace mental health, some challenges will arise. These include addressing the prevailing stigma around mental health, providing sufficient and timely support to employees that need it and addressing resistance from employees who may not wish to do the necessary to work on their mental health concerns.
A key factor to successfully overcoming these challenges is strong support from management and consistent messaging that mental health is taken seriously by the employer.
The Benefits of a Mentally Healthy Work Environment
If the challenges can be overcome, there are many benefits to creating a mentally healthy workplace. Some of these include:
• Improved employee morale
• Reduced absenteeism
• Improved employee engagement
• Increased creativity and innovation
From the employer’s perspective, the benefits stated above can, in turn, lead to reduced staff turnover and increased productivity. An emphasis on mental health in the workplace can help position an employer as an employer of choice.
We spend about 1/2 of our waking hours at the workplace and it is important that this time is spent in a mentally healthy environment. While creating a mentally healthy workplace is important for the well-being of employees, it can also play a key role in the growth and success of the business. There are definite challenges in this path, but the benefits are worth the effort.
Creating a mentally healthy workplace begins with you. Explore our art therapy workshops at Solace that help employees build positive working relationships, and manage conflicts, stress, and burnout at work.