Stressed Staff? Mental Health Training for Employee Wellbeing
93% of people in a recent survey said they used the past year to reflect on their lives, and 88% said the meaning of success has changed for them since the pandemic. As employers work towards creating healthy and supportive workplaces, Onebright clinicians share five practical tools for managers to support stressed employees.
Employee mental health remains a high priority in just about every organisation’s strategic plan. For many, remote working highlighted the need for a more balanced work-life dynamic, and, in turn, more people are wondering if the companies they give so much of their time to have their best interests in mind.
The workforce is changing. We have seen from ‘The Great Resignation’ that millions of people worldwide left their jobs to explore healthier, more balanced and meaningful work options. The pandemic unveiled a greater understanding of how people now seek more significant purpose and support in their work lives.
Organisations taking the lead are now offering mental health benefits like mental health training for managers and business leaders, optional funded therapy sessions and programs for teams to help build resilience when you have stressed employees.
But statistics reveal that hiring managers seriously underestimate how important the mental health policies of an employer are when choosing a role. Just 42% believed that their mental health strategies would be important to candidates when considering a new job.
However, despite the benefits of mental health policies in organisations, these same statistics reveal that only 51% of employers currently have a dedicated mental health policy in place. If you are exploring options to collaborate with a mental health provider or want to gain more clarity on how you can better help workers manage work stressors, discover five ways organisations are benefiting from clinically-led, evidence-based mental health training.
Reduces the stigma
When organisations invest in mental health training for management and leadership teams, it helps validate the experiences of people with depression, anxiety or stress. Reducing the stigma surrounding mental health issues makes people less likely to suffer in silence and more likely to reach out to someone asking for help.
Boosts employee trust
86% of employees believe their company’s culture should support mental health, according to Harvard Business Review. Implementing a mental health training program lets employees know that your organisation cares about their well-being. When employees see employers taking action and leading on something that matters to them, they are likely to become more invested.
Improves Productivity & Performance
Workers who experience stress and don’t have the tools to manage the symptoms may seek to reduce their stress through unhealthy eating or misuse of substances. Over time, this can impact job performance and affect an organisation’s overall morale and bottom line if left unnoticed or untreated.
Better employee health and mental wellbeing
Employee wellness focuses mainly on physical health, but this is missing an essential piece of the puzzle. Giving employees the tools and knowledge they need to manage their mental health can improve their health outcomes long term. For example, learning skills to reduce anxiety and stress leads to better sleep, a crucial part of overall physical and mental health.
Build a stronger workplace community
Common mental health concerns like stress can make team members less capable of resolving obstacles with coworkers. In addition, stressed employees can lead to more conflict at work and make team members withdraw or become reactive in situations. When mental health is a workplace priority, employees become more aware of how their stress can contribute to conflict among coworkers.
Mental health experts, Onebright, warn stressed 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 employers. 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.
Talking about mental health has been taboo for too long, especially when people fear the negative consequences of disclosing this information to employers.
Some common beliefs that make stressed 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
- A 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. Line managers and business leaders often 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 stressed 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 stressed employees access to those who have received mental health training or have relevant experience and can act as a friend, mentors or guides.
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 stressed 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 stressed employees.