The decades long public debate around mental health has resulted in gradual change in perception and reaction to mental health issues. Historically, anyone with mental health issues would be shunned at best, institutionalised at worst.
With progress comes greater understanding but while we as individuals may have changed, businesses are lagging behind. Poor management practices, inadequate benefits and a culture of silence can all contribute to someone’s challenges.
That’s not to say all companies are bad and work is the sole cause of mental health issues necessarily, however it can be an environment that exacerbates them. But as a manager or team leader, it can be hard to know what you should do to help. Rest assured, there are many things you can do to raise mental health awareness at work.
Coming up with novel ideas can be tough if you’re unfamiliar with mental health as an issue. But there are already so many fantastic initiatives in place that you can adopt.
You could use these as a standalone campaign or implement them as part of a wider mental health strategy. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration to set up your own company-wide initiative.
Whatever you decide, additional action around mental health support can only be a good thing. With only 13% of employees who have mental health issues or illness feeling safe to discuss it at work, there’s a lot of work still to be done.
To help, we’ve listed some of the ways you can get started. With many active and successful initiatives that will help you improve your workplace culture. As well as support your valued employees in their times of need.
Look to Others for Inspiration
If you’re stuck for ideas on how to raise mental health awareness at work, look to others for inspiration. Research what other companies are doing to reduce stigma and encourage people to seek mental health support. You can take these ideas to management meetings and see if your company would like to do something similar.
Some companies you could take inspiration from are:
Launched its own ‘Are you okay?” campaign which invited people to ask this question to initiate supportive conversations. They also provided daily intranet articles related to different themes and linked to useful tools and resources. Going on to add a Mental Health First Aid digital learning course among other resources.
The Bank of England
Light up their building green on mental health awareness days. They also host external speakers on numerous topics like ‘the mental health of black men in the UK’ and ‘psychological resilience in children under 12’.
Provide holistic classes for all employees in mindful breathing and meditation. They have also launched wellbeing webinars, podcasts and have provided online wellbeing tools among other activities.
If you need further help with ideas, talk to mental health charities like Mind who can advise. They and other mental health charities will be able to recommend ideas to you. Perhaps running you through options that have worked particularly well in other businesses. As a thank you, you could arrange a fundraiser to help donate funds to their projects. You could also invite one of their ambassadors in to deliver talks about their personal mental health journey.
Take part in mental health awareness days
You could research significant dates in the calendar that help end the stigma around mental health. Once you find the ones you’d like to align your business with, think of ways your company can collectively participate.
Some of the mental health awareness events you could take part in are:
World Mental Health Day – 10th October
An international day for mental health education which aims to raise awareness and increase advocacy against social stigma. It provides an opportunity for participants to talk about what they are working on to make a difference. Plus, what else needs to happen before mental health care can become a reality for people worldwide.
Mental Health Awareness Week – 10th-16th May
A weeklong annual event in the UK that focuses on achieving good mental health. There is a different theme each year, such as ‘nature’ or ‘kindness’. But each aims to start conversations about mental health and the things in our lives that can impact it.
World Suicide Prevention Day – 10th September
A global event to raise awareness of how a world can be created where fewer people die by suicide. Again, each year is themed to highlight specific aspects of suicide prevention.
Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week – 1st-7th February
Promotes the importance of positive mental health within children and young people, with annual themes like 'Express yourself'. This aims to encourage children and young people to find ways to share their feelings, thoughts or ideas through creativity.
Start meaningful conversations
The workplace should be an environment where staff feel comfortable talking openly about their mental health. If you encourage meaningful conversations, it can help employees and colleagues feel safe to discuss what they are experiencing.
There are certain initiatives you can get on board with to help kick start this movement:
Take 10 for Mental Health
Coined by Mental Health First Aid England. This campaign encourages people to take ten minutes out of their day to start a meaningful conversation about mental health. You can contact MHFA directly for steps and advice on how to set up mental health conversations.
Time to Talk Day
Run by Time to Change. This campaign encourages people to text friends, chat to colleagues or anyone else, through any form, about mental health.
You could jump on board with these campaigns or start your own within your workplace. Perhaps initiating meaningful conversations every day or on set days of the week in workplace meetings.
Educate your Employees about Mental Health
Initiating more conversations about mental health is an excellent way to reduce the stigma and encourage a positive workplace culture.
However, more can be done if people within the workplace are trained to understand mental health. That way, they are better positioned to spot the signs of an episode or crisis and remove potential triggers.
You and your team can get equipped to support and raise mental health awareness at work through courses like:
Awareness of Mental Health Problems
Develops your knowledge and understanding of a range of mental health issues like anxiety and depression. As well as other conditions which may significantly affect the mental health of a person. You’ll be given a thorough grounding in what is meant by mental health terminology. The possible causes and triggers of each condition and how each condition can affect the lives of the people living with them. You’ll also learn more about how these conditions may be managed.
Mental Health First Aid and Advocacy in the Workplace
Helps you to support those with mental health issues effectively using a person-centred approach to ensure their identified needs are being met. It also teaches you about the legislative frameworks to ensure third parties are acting in accordance with the law.
Emergency Response to Mental Health in the Workplace
Gives you the skills you need to help a colleague or visitor who is experiencing mental ill-health. It will enable you to tackle the situation with confidence, getting all concerned the help they require.
Mental Health in the Workplace for Managers
Designed to help you foster a wellness at work culture and support colleagues who are showing signs of mental ill-health.
Courses like these and many more can help you better support and raise mental health awareness at work. If you’re interested in learning more about what you can do for people experiencing mental health issues, we can help.
learndirect is the leading UK distance learning provider, who have recently launched a course faculty dedicated to mental health education. Find out more about getting the knowledge you need online to support your colleagues.
Simply click below to view the many beneficial courses we have available.