Mental Health Training: How To Be An Ally for Employees

Mental Health Training: How To Be An Ally for Employees

Ask yourself: How would I react if an employee came to me with a physical illness or injury such as a broken leg? Indeed, there is no stigma around having a broken leg and seeking treatment. Now ask yourself: What if an employee came to me with a mental health problem? Would I feel comfortable discussing it and providing support? 

Mental health experts, Onebright, warn employees are being left to manage well-being issues on their own and urge businesses to engage in conversations and offer targeted support. Results from a recent poll in the Healthier Nation Index found that 66% of people would not share their mental health struggles with their employer. It also found that despite 37% of respondents saying their mental health had worsened over the last year, a third were not offered any mental health support or emotional well-being resources in the workplace.

For too long, talking about mental health has been taboo, especially when people are fearful of the negative consequences of disclosing this information to employers. 

Some common beliefs that make employees choose not to talk about their mental health struggles include: 

  • Decision making will be questioned 
  • Being judged if needing to take time off sick
  • Colleagues will have to pick up the extra workload, which will cause resentment 
  • Colleagues may treat you differently and worry about saying the wrong thing or be afraid of causing offence 
  • It’s a ‘home’ issue, not a ‘work’ issue 
  • Being seen as weak or a failure
  • Subconscious bias from managers 
  • Fear of discrimination / not belonging
  • Career being affected, overlooked for promotions or new roles

 

“Employees are often reluctant to ask for support due to uncertainty and worry about the consequences of disclosing a mental health issue. The challenge now is to ensure that employees feel safe to talk about how they feel and are confident that the support offered will have a meaningful and lasting impact.” – Sarah Carter, Head of Account Management Onebright. 

It’s time to get rid of the fear. As employers, there exists an opportunity to dispel these myths by making conversations surrounding mental health at work the norm. 

It all starts with the right mental health training.

Often line managers and business leaders can feel uncomfortable starting a conversation about mental health or worry about giving the ‘wrong’ response if someone does disclose their mental health issues to them. 

Basic mental health training for all employees can help dispel these fears. 

Providing specific training for line managers and those responsible for others’ welfare can also be invaluable. 

Mental health training for line managers should include the following: 

  • Spotting the signs – How to spot behavioural changes and symptoms if an employee suffers from mental health issues. 
  • Communication skills – How to talk about it and what words are best to use/avoid. 
  • Workplace adjustments and return to work – training for managers to help people stay at work where possible or integrate individuals back into the team for an effective and successful return to work.

 

Onebright’s mental health training can give managers the confidence to start conversations about mental health struggles and take appropriate steps to signpost employees to relevant help. 

Provide ongoing support 

Once the conversation has started with an employee about mental health, it’s essential to keep it going. One solution may be to put a buddy system in place, offering employees access to those who have received mental health training or have relevant experience and can act as a friend, mentor or guide. 

More structured support may also be available. For example, corporate Private Medical Insurance policies. These can sometimes provide fully funded Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for insured employees suffering from mental health issues to help prevent absence or help them recover from long term absence. 

Partnering with a mental health provider, such as Onebright, can provide psychological support services for employees with access to a highly effective range of evidence-based psychological therapies. 

Employers who take mental health and well-being seriously send out a clear message about the organisation’s values and show that they care, respect and support their employees. 

There are so many ways that employers can improve the experience and lives of the people who work for them, and through mental health training, we can learn to be allies for our employees, so they don’t feel like they’re enduring challenges on their own. For more information about Onebright mental health training, get in touch with us. 

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