Care for the mental health and safety of the workplace is becoming an increasingly important part of the workplace. In many companies, however, another important issue – mental health – remains neglected, and it is the second biggest challenge managers face.
Mental problems can go unnoticed in the office. Every fourth employee in a company shows such at least once a year, and the result is usually reduced efficiency.
That’s why it’s time to develop your skills to recognise this “unwanted guest” and take control of its influence on your team.
Mental problems and their effect on the work process
Did you know that according to the World Health Organization only two of the most common mental problems – depression and anxiety, cost the global economy about $ 1 trillion a year? And all this is a result of the reduced productivity of people with such problems.
This proves that impaired mental health has consequences not only for the members of your team who show them but also for the business’s efficiency and even for the turnover of talents.
Managers in various industries usually lack confidence in their ability to recognise symptoms of ill mental health. The tendency of people to discuss and share on the topic also does not facilitate the situation:
- Young people under the age of 30 are more likely to talk about their mental health than older people (45% vs 57%)
- They are also more anxious to share with their managers if they have a mental problem (40% vs 48%).
- Only 24% of men would benefit from mental health services provided by the company they work for, while for women, the percentage is 35%.
In search of the golden mean in maintaining a work culture in which mental health has an important place, you will face 2 challenges:
- Leaders may not accept the mental health of their employees as their job.
- Team members may not want to talk about the topic.
Keep reading, and we will show you how to overcome the barrier in communication between team members.
Effective team communication – why don’t teammates and managers want to share?
Depression, suicidal thoughts, alcoholism, harassment, arrests, fights, and repeated failures. Such problems have been solved by the manager of a small manufacturing company in a Toronto suburb that employs about 40 people.
Cameron Deva, a health economist at the Center for Addictions and Mental Health in Toronto, shares her observation that talking about these topics is one of the most undesirable and unpleasant for both sides.
The role of managers in breaking this paradigm is crucial and should no longer be a task of human resources alone because you, as a leader, lead your teams forward.
Therefore, our goal is to focus on the problem and break down the barriers to solving it.
What are mental illnesses, and what are the most common in the workplace?
Mental illness affects the way a person:
- Think of himself;
- Refers to others;
- Interacts with the world around him.
They usually occur with stress or insecurity, which can often be present in many people’s work or personal life.
It is important to know that mental illness is an actual illness, but most of it is episodic. Imagine a member of the team.
He would have periods when he feels energetic and productive, as well as those in which he feels bad, and his overall functioning is low. He may doubt his abilities, look less confident, find it difficult to concentrate, learn and make decisions.
If this person looks back, he will find that:
- His work relationships with colleagues are negatively affected;
- There is low productivity due to worries, stress and insecurity;
- He feels exhausted physically and emotionally.
How do managers nourish their teams’ mental health?
The way employees think, feel, and behave affects everything from productivity and communication to their ability to maintain workplace safety. That is why a true manager needs to go through training that will help him successfully catch all the signs of mental problems in his team and know how to approach them.
Here are some proven practical tips that you can start with right now.
(1) Promote work-life balance
If you praise employees who work late and come to work early, or if you expect them to work from home, it will hurt your company in the long run. Without a healthy work-life balance, everyone’s productivity decreases, increasing the tendency to burn out.
To avoid this, insist that your team members take regular breaks during which they have no contact with work. Don’t expect everyone to respond to your email around the clock.
Besides, encourage them to develop a rich, fulfilling life outside the office. People who maintain their hobbies, spend time with their loved ones, and take care of themselves are the most valuable employees.
Entertainment in the workplace is essential for the development of a team mindset. With KissTheFrogNOW, you can conduct team building sessions in hundreds of formats with our four decks – PersonalQuestions, TeamGames, Discussions, Illustrations.
(2) Make discussing mental health in the workplace part of the routine
Don’t be afraid to discuss topics related to stress, depression, and anxiety. Make it part of your work and team routine and show that everyone sometimes struggles with such conditions.
Such an empathetic conversation between a manager and a team member can be essential to encourage him to seek and receive help.
(3) Offer free screening
Most mental health problems are not treated because even employees do not recognise the signs and symptoms. They often describe them simply as stress or are convinced that they will disappear on their own. Various organisations, such as the Mental Health American, offer free screening tools to help employees assess their risk factors anonymously.
A practical idea is for the teams to make a similar self-assessment once a month or quarterly, which you can then discuss, if you prefer, in person.
(4) Introduce a team assistance program
Offering your team members an assistance program is an advantage that allows your team to access free therapy sessions. Investing in it and encouraging your people to take advantage would pay off many times over retaining talent.
Whether the person has marital problems or suffers from insomnia, you can help him deal with issues that impair his effectiveness with this program.
(5) Make welfare a priority
Exercise, healthy eating, and engaging in recreational activities are simple ways for each company to build a healthy psyche and improve their mental health. So make it a priority to help your people develop good habits, either through fitness cards or other forms.
(6) Fight the stigma
Frequent conversations about stress management and self-care, including mental health during team meetings and email communication, can drastically reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
When your team members trust that you won’t call them “crazy” because they’ve had a panic attack or fire them when they’re struggling with depression, they’ll be more likely to seek treatment, and fortunately, most mental states are treatable.
(7) Be an example to follow
Don’t just show that you care about the mental health of the people in the company. Be an example yourself by sharing that you have an appointment for a therapist or get involved in joint events:
- Take walks in the middle of the day;
- Take time away from work;
- Have fun and laugh together.
This will show your team how important and rewarding it is to take care of yourself. The best leaders are also the best listeners, and they know how to make their teams feel comfortable with their thoughts, ideas, and opinions on any given topic. You do not need the Agenda to carry out these activities. Sometimes you only need one deck of Discussion cards.
Discussions are debate games that aim to reinforce a team’s understanding of a common position’s strength. With the Discussions deck, your team members will learn to find a solution, will work on debating skills and practice mediation, which will improve the way they formulate an opinion. Open and honest conversations with your teammates can affect their perspective and knowledge of mental health care.
Is only the manager responsible for taking care of the mental health of his team?
The short answer is ‘No’. Everyone in a company is responsible for creating a healthy environment and implementing the plan that the manager has designed to improve his team’s mental health care.
This includes Human Resources. The department should advise and support managers and teammates. They must also be leaders in creating an environment that promotes workers’ well-being to monitor sick leave.
When it comes to micro-business, which has no developed human resources activity, then all these activities should be distributed among the various units. The owner is most responsible in this case.
Senior executives play a crucial role in implementing such a change because they need to implement robust processes, inspections, and action plans that are regularly monitored.
Line managers must take responsibility to assess the mental health of their teams periodically. They can do this through regular team meetings, quarterly mental health audits, or regular one-off checkups. Managers need to seek and take appropriate action from the regular feedback they receive on the approach they have chosen.
No matter what position they occupy in the organisation, every team member must strive to maintain a balance between work and personal life. They are also responsible for seeking support when they need it to solve their mental problems and inform their manager or HR department.
What are the positives for the employer of making his team feel good?
Dedication, high productivity, desire to work 100%, wish for further development, personal contribution to the organisation’s development, and loyalty. These are the main positives you can get when your team member feels good, both healthily and mentally.
As a result, each organisation’s primary goal will be fulfilled: to provide a quality service or product that will attract more customers and meet existing ones’ needs.