Even if you are not responsible for setting policy, looking after your own mental health is essential and should not be neglected.
Understanding mental health
Mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It plays a crucial role in handling stress, relating to others, and making choices in your daily life.
A healthy mental state enables you to reach your full potential, work productively, and contribute positively to your community.
Workplace factors that may contribute to mental ill-health include:
Unsocial or inflexible hours
Lack of control over job design or workload
Unsafe or poor physical working conditions
Organisational culture that enables negative behaviours
To support your mental health, you may consider:
Seeking professional help if you struggle with mental health problems
Balancing work, rest, and leisure
Building supportive relationships with colleagues
Communicating openly about mental health in the workplace
Taking part in activities that promote mental wellbeing, such as exercise or meditation
By clearly understanding mental health and its importance, you can take steps to maintain your well-being and encourage a supportive environment at work.
The role of work in mental health
The role of your work in your mental health cannot be overstated. Your workplace directly influences your mental health by creating a sense of belonging, purpose, and accomplishment in your everyday life.
You can create a healthy balance by considering aspects such as working arrangements, employer support, and overall workplace culture
One important aspect is having suitable working arrangements.
These include having
The option to work remotely
Clear communication between you and your employer
Long hours and a demanding work schedule can take their toll on your mental health. It's important to find a balance between your professional and personal commitments.
Striking this balance allows you time to relax, regenerate and focus on your hobbies and relationships outside of work.
Additionally, your daily commute to work can also affect your mental health.
A lengthy and stressful journey can significantly impact your well-being, while a short and manageable commute can help reduce stress. Consider walking or cycling to work for a more relaxing and healthier alternative.
Choosing arrangements that suit your lifestyle helps in managing stress and reducing burnout.
As an employee, it's essential to understand the role your employer plays in your mental health. They are responsible for providing a safe and inclusive environment where your needs are recognised and addressed.
Communicating with your employer about any concerns you might have is crucial, as open and honest communication can lead to effective solutions.
Working with a balanced workload is crucial. Overloading yourself with tasks or having too little to do, can both result in mental strain.
Ensure you have a manageable workload, and don't be afraid to speak up if you are overwhelmed. Regular breaks and setting realistic expectations can also help improve your mental well-being.
Your workplace culture also plays a significant role in your mental health.
Feeling supported by your colleagues, recognised for your efforts, and included in a welcoming atmosphere can greatly impact your mental well-being.
Encourage an open and inclusive culture where everyone feels safe to share their thoughts and concerns.
Finally, the sector you work in can affect your mental health. It's important to choose a workplace that aligns with your values, goals, and passions to ensure a more fulfilling work experience.
Reflect on your professional preferences and explore industry opportunities that resonate with your interests. Doing so will make you more likely to feel content and motivated at work.
The responsibility of employers
As an employer, you must care for your employees' mental health and well-being.
This includes understanding and complying with relevant laws, such as the Equality Act 2010. Failure to meet your legal responsibilities can result in fines or legal action against your organisation.
Work environment design and resources
A key element of supporting mental health in the workplace is designing a work environment that promotes well-being.
This includes providing access to natural light, quiet spaces for focus and relaxation, and ergonomic furniture.
Connect: Encourage strong relationships among colleagues.
Be active: Promote physical activity by offering discounted gym memberships or organising group exercise sessions.
Take notice: Encourage mindfulness and appreciation for the present moment.
Keep learning: Support ongoing learning and development by providing access to training or resources.
Give: Foster a culture of volunteering and giving back to the community.
Implementing a Wellness Action Plan
A Wellness Action Plan (WAP) is a personalised mental health support tool designed to help employees and managers identify sources of stress and develop strategies to maintain mental wellbeing.
A WAP can increase employee engagement, reduce absenteeism, and boost productivity.
To create a WAP, consider guidance from organisations like ACAS and consult with employees to identify their needs.
Using this information, develop a plan focusing on preventive measures, early intervention and support for employees with existing mental health challenges. Regularly review and update the WAP as needed.
Promoting work safety and occupational health
Ensuring a safe working environment is crucial for both physical and mental health. You must comply with occupational health and safety regulations to minimise the risk of accidents and work-related illnesses.
In addition, security measures should be in place to protect employees and their personal information.
Promote workplace safety by:
Conducting regular risk assessments and addressing hazards.
Providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary.
Offering training on safety practices and procedures.
Encouraging employees to report incidents or concerns.
Finally, consider offering healthy food options in the workplace to support employee wellbeing.
Nutritious meals can increase energy levels, better concentration, and ultimately, enhanced productivity.
Is it time to move on?
Perhaps, you have decided that a new job is the best way to prioritise your mental health.
If that's the case, then browse our job listings and find a role that works for you.
This post was written by: Rob Boyle, Marketing Operations Director