Time to talk

Tackling stigma in the workplace for World Mental Health Day

Oct 10, 2019 | Feature

Get talking 

When Ant and Dec paused the Britain’s Got Talent final on primetime TV on Saturday to introduce a new Get Britain Talking campaign, they firmly put mental health issues in the spotlight. Making a stand to break the stigma, they actively encouraged viewers to talk and listen to one another more, in a pledge to improve the nation’s mental wellbeing.

We can each do something to tackle the stigma in the workplace too!

The start of the working week can trigger feelings of stress and anxiety before we’ve even set foot in the office. The ‘Monday blues’ are linked to the end of another weekend, but what can be done when that Monday morning feeling extends throughout the week?

Mental health affects us all 

Mental health is not operated by an on and off switch. Each moment can be a never-ending battle for those struggling with their mind, their self and their actions. World Mental Health Day is a drive to change. With this in mind, we’re sharing some thoughts on how you can create a positive culture that benefits your company and your colleagues.

Work smarter, not harder

It begins with control, and businesses being willing to sacrifice a little bit of it for the greater good. In the face of a potentially overwhelming workload, employees often forfeit their mental wellbeing for workplace success.

When people feel overwhelmed, anxiety and stress can magnify problems, and the view of what we are and who we should be in the office can lead to overworking. The pressure to get away on time can also cause major stress.

We recommend, where possible, allowing employees the control to manage their own day in a healthy way, scheduling regular catch ups and sessions to make sure everything is on track. This allows them to work in a way that is suited to their strengths, removing unnecessary pressure and allowing creativity to flourish. Creating an open, but structured workplace, makes it easier to not only recognise signs of a burnout, but for employees to trust colleagues with the personal topic of mental health.

Nominate your champions 

Work can put us all under pressure, and sometimes leave us feeling unsupported and overwhelmed. It’s such a pleasure to work with organisations that increasingly take the initiative to confront these problems, offering mental health first aid training to willing employees.

Encouraging people to seek support without judgement through designated MHFA first aiders is a fantastic place to begin to tackle the stigma of mental health at work. However, appointing a mental health first aider should not be seen as a simple tick in the box, it must form part of a wider strategy.

Create safe space

Having a space for supportive and understanding conversation is integral to a happy and productive environment. You’ve heard of ‘chatting around the water cooler’? Whether there’s actually a water cooler or not, a space for banter, catch-ups, and conversation makes social interactions meaningful. People thrive when they can speak openly, so providing a place for this helps build valuable relationships. You can use these spaces to push messages about mental health too.

How are you?

Take care of yourself too. Public Health England has created a helpful Every Mind Matters toolkit, a free online plan designed to help you deal with your own stress and anxiety, boost your mood, improve your sleep and feel more in control, you can check it out here.

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