At any given moment 1 in 6 of the UK workforce are experiencing a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress. Whether this is situational; as a result of relationship breakdown or bereavement, or long-term, it can have consequences on an employee’s performance.

We know that organisations perform better when their staff are healthy, motivated and focused and more and more top employers are supporting their employees who may be struggling with their mental health to cope and recover.
The speed and effectiveness of the first line mental health support employees get from their employer is key in determining their recovery time and how quickly they are able to get back to peak performance.

Create a safe environment
Too often employees are too scared to mention to their employer that they need help, or that they’re struggling. As problems go unnoticed, it begins to affect their output and productivity and the relationship with their manager has already began to break down.

Organisations need to send a clear signal that mental health is as important as physical health and will be treated in the same way. It should be communicated that mental health will not be discriminated against and a conversation will only lead to support, not judgement or sanctions.

Which leads us onto our next tip; talk about it.
Colleagues should feel confident to tackle conversations about mental health and be encouraged to open a dialogue should they need to. Regular one-to-one meetings and catch-ups are a great way for managers, for example, to ask their teams how they’re getting on, but all employees should have the opportunity to raise any issues.

Make reasonable adjustments
Adjusting an employee’s working hours or pattern can encourage them to return to work sooner and help minimise the impact of mental health issues.
Examples of reasonable adjustments to an employee’s current role could be the introduction of flexible hours or a change to start/finish times, change of workspace to a quieter, less busy area, remote working or changes to break times. In other cases, it might be that an employee wants to look at training and support to help them improve their knowledge and tackle their day to day tasks with more ease. Employees may also benefit from extra support from their manager, such as managing their workload and ensuring they are taking breaks and leaving on time each day.
It’s important when making adjustments that the employee is consulted and any decision reached has benefits to both the employee and the business, sometimes creative thinking may be needed to find a solution.

Invest in a wellbeing programme
Employee assistance programmes (EAP) are widely recognised as being helpful tools in managing employee mental health. Many programmes offer debt advice, money management tips and counselling for employees and their immediate family. Exercise is one of the main tools at our disposal to deal with mood disorders and mental health and some EAP’s offer free or subsidised gym memberships.

Mental health first aiding
Prevention is better than a cure. Mental health first aiders are trained to spot the signs and symptoms of mental ill health and provide help on a first aid basis. In the same way as learning physical first aid, mental health first aid teaches people how to recognise those crucial warning signs of mental ill health and feel confident to guide someone to appropriate support.

Quality mental health training can help to:
• Build employees’ confidence to have open conversations around mental health and break the stigma
• Encourage people to access support early when needed, for a faster recovery
• Empower people with a long-term mental health issue or disability to thrive in work
• Promote a mentally healthy environment, stopping preventable issues and allowing people to thrive and become more productive

Remit Group now offers a two-day Mental Health First Aid course accredited by Mental Health First Aid England. If you feel your business is ready to talk mental health, get in touch with Remit today and find out how we can help your business support the mental health of its employees.