With 15% of employees experiencing mental health problems in the workplace, studies have found better mental health support in the workplace can save UK businesses up to £8 billion annually.
For many HR professionals, considering how to improve mental health in the workplace can feel like an overwhelming, uphill task. Luckily, we’re here to help. As the ‘one stop shop’ for all things workplace wellbeing and host to 50 + mental health at work workshops, improving mental health in the workplace is our M.O. Below we’ve shared some of our top tips to help improve mental health in the workplace.
1. Put Movement at the heart of your Strategy to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace
Exercise has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. It can also improve mood, productivity and cognitive function. Some companies consider exercise so integral to their team’s wellbeing, they go as far as paying their employees to exercise whilst at work.
We love this illustration highlighting the work of psychophysiologist Dr. Charles Hillman. Dr Hillman has proven we essentially “switch ourselves on” by moving. Consequently, the increased blood flow we get from exercise feeds our body and brain with oxygen and energy.
And as this illustration proves, if a sweaty workout is out of the question, a walk will more than suffice to get that blood flowing.
Instead of sitting in a conference room for a meeting, suggest taking a walking meeting. Not only will this help improve mental health, but it can also boost creativity and productivity.
2. Offer Mental Health Benefits (and make sure employees know about them)
Providing mental health benefits can help employees access the care they need. This can include access to mental health professionals or workshops. Did you know 75% of workers who voluntarily leave their jobs do so because of their manager – and not the position, the role itself or the company? Our Mental Health Training for Managers workshop equips managers with the skills and confidence to recognise signs and symptoms of mental health issues and effectively guide a person towards support.
3. Encourage Employees to use Technology Mindfully
When considering how to improve mental health in the workplace, stop to think of your technology use. We spend so much of our time on screens – interacting via messaging, arranging meetings, or binge watching our favourite Netflix series. Yet constantly interacting with our digital devices can lead to sleep problems, depression, anxiety, and even chronic back & neck problems. In addition to physical strain to your eyes & body, spending long hours staring at screens can take a toll on your physical health. Fear not, tweaking your screen time can avoid these negative effects. Why not try our Digital Wellbeing workshop or Sleep School for a peaceful night’s sleep. You can also read more about how Mindful Tech can make us happier, healthier and more productive here.
4. Set Boundaries
Setting boundaries is a sure-fire way to help improve mental health in the workplace.
Your boundaries are simply what is and what isn’t ok with you. This could be saying no to working late into the evening or being able to express your emotions openly and honestly.
According to research by Business in the Community, 62% of colleagues have prioritised their work over their wellbeing. Our Creating Boundaries in the Workplace provides tips for communicating your boundaries and overcoming the difficulties that come with setting boundaries. If you’re a people pleaser, this workshop will help you make peace with turning ‘yes’s in to ‘no’s.
Need some more persuading? Read a review from one of our recent participants of ‘Setting Boundaries at Work’:
‘It was a brilliant workshop and I felt really quite emotional when reflecting on how I allow other people to encroach on my boundaries. This is the first time a work event has made me feel like this (30 years) and that’s the mark of an excellent facilitator and course content.’
5. Have Mental Health Role Models
New data suggests that for almost 70% of people, their manager has more impact on their mental health than their therapist or their doctor. This is of equal importance to the impact of their partner! 73% of managers agree they should be modelling healthy behaviours for their team members, yet the reality speaks a different truth.
It’s no secret that support and championing from senior management plays a huge part in the success of a workplace wellbeing programme. For mental health to truly become part of company culture and conversations, it’s imperative senior role models speak up. This could be sharing their own mental health stories or organising and introducing mental health at work events. By modelling healthy behaviours (such as logging off on holiday and taking a lunch-break), more junior employees will follow suit.