Whether you’re a leader or a manager, it’s important to foster a positive work environment and support your staff. We spend so much of our lives in the workplace so it’s important that we address how we look after our own mental health, and the mental health of those around us.

Of course, professional dynamics have changed drastically for so many people in the last 12 months as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Remote working has become a constant feature in many sectors, and will continue to be as businesses adapt to the new normal.

Every workplace is different and requires a tailored approach, but these seven actions can help set you on the right path.

Improve your understanding of mental health. The first step to making your workplace mentally healthy is to understand what good mental health looks like. Regularly provide information on the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and suicidality. Share available support networks to staff. These suggestions could be actioned through HR, an internal newsletter or intranet platform.

Address risks. A range of factors may be contributing to an unhealthy work environment. Put processes in place to ensure that:

  • employees have a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities
  • employees have opportunities to provide feedback and be heard
  • resources and training are available to staff for professional learning
  • policies around workplace behaviour, diversity and inclusion are promoted and acted upon
  • workloads and expectations are regularly reviewed
  • environmental risks such as unpleasant or dangerous physical conditions are addressed and dealt with
  • Foster an anti-bullying culture.

Have a no-tolerance attitude towards bullying and inappropriate behaviour. This includes having reporting procedures put in place so employees feel safe speaking up about workplace bullying.

Combat stigma. Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health from the top down. Ensure senior leaders promote a zero-tolerance attitude towards discrimination against staff who have a mental health condition.

Promote positive mental health and wellbeing. Provide information on self-care and positive coping strategies. Foster a positive environment by promoting employee growth, recognition of achievements, and participation in social activities.

Support employees who are living with a mental health condition. Offer training to upskill leaders. Provide them with resources that enable them to identify risk factors. Support staff who are experiencing a mental health condition. Provide access to confidential and easy to access support networks (such as Employee Assistance Program and peer support).

Don’t be afraid to talk about suicide. Provide resources highlighting suicide warning signs and share available supports with your staff. This could be done by making note of dates such as World Suicide Prevention Day.

Check out our fact sheet Seven actions to help create a mentally healthy workplace for more info and details on the above points.

Related reading: Should you tell your manager you have a mental health condition

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