If you wake up dreading your workday, you’re not alone. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 70% of Canadians are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace. Since your workspace is where you spend the majority of your time, addressing any work-related mental health issues is paramount. Mental health also affects employers; the Canadian Mental Health Association says that absenteeism and lost productivity related to mental health costs companies billions of dollars each year.
Steps Employers Can Take to Mitigate Mental Health Issues
As an employer, there are many ways that you can help create a psychologically safe and positive workplace. A supportive work environment that recognizes and promotes wellbeing has the power to keep your workplace strong and competitive. Some simple strategies that you can implement include:
Starting the conversation. If someone on your team is suffering from a mental health issue, they may feel compelled to keep quiet. But if it’s impacting their performance, it may be time to address it. One way you can reduce the stigma is to have a workplace mental health strategy that advises workers on how to raise the issue with their manager. Also, having resources for managers on how to handle these sensitive situations will help make such conversations easier for everyone.
Encouraging participation. A disconnected employee often feels like they’re not part of the team. You can encourage inclusion by fostering a team-focused environment and including all staff in decision-making, not just your executives.
Promoting work-life balance. When employees are consistently connected to the workplace, their personal lives are likely to suffer. Consider setting policies regarding after-hours work. You may also want to limit the situations whereby your management team is allowed to contact staff outside of the office. Define any emergencies where after-hours contact is required and defer any other contact until the next business day.
Offering wellness programs. While wellness programs won’t cure any existing mental-health issues, they can provide employees with coping skills. Healthy eating programs, team socials, and fitness classes are all ways to make it easier for employees to preserve their health. Consider asking members of your team to lead any programs that interest them, such as a lunch-hour walking group or meditation class.
What Employees Can Do to Help Each Other’s Mental Health
Much like physical sickness, mental illnesses will exhibit different symptoms for everyone. Some people hide their symptoms, or may not realize they’re exhibiting any. If you’re concerned about a co-worker’s mental health, it’s best to share your concern instead of assuming any diagnoses.
The decision to disclose any type of illness in the workplace should be up to the individual. However, you can still offer support to your teammates. Simple ways that you can support a co-worker include:
- Asking if and how you can help.
- Including your co-worker in regular, daily routines.
- Keep in touch with a co-worker who has taken time away.
Healthy workplaces benefit both employees and their employers. Many mental health strategies are inexpensive, can contribute to improving everyone’s well-being, and will help to build a safe, inclusive workspace. Visit the Government of Canada’s website for more information and resources related to mental health in the workplace.
Michelle Novielli | Contributing Writer