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What Does a Mental Health-Friendly Workplace Look Like? 4 Tips to Make it a Reality

The mental well-being of the employees is key to building a successful business. Recent studies have shown that poor mental health can have a negative impact on company performance. Hence, now more than ever it is important to invest in employee wellness and create a healthy workplace environment. 

Since mental wellbeing is a very broad concept, managers find it challenging to foster a mental health-friendly environment. To help you with this issue here is detailed information about how to create a mental health-friendly workplace. 

What does a mental health-friendly workplace look like?

You can tell if a workplace is mental health-friendly by observing the behaviour of employees as well as managers. Workplace being supportive of mental well-being is not shown by bold claims or appealing websites; it is demonstrated by the actions of an organisation’s employees. Unfortunately, many companies think it is only the messages they share that build a mental health-friendly workplace, but in reality, supporting mental health should be applied to every aspect of the work. 

In a mental health-friendly environment, employees feel comfortable to talk about mental health and share their concerns. Moreover, employees get necessary help within the capabilities of the company they work for. Removing the stigma over mental health is the ultimate step towards creating a mental health-friendly workplace. At the end of the day, you can tell if a workplace supports mental wellbeing based on employees’ attitudes. If they have opportunities to ask for help when they need it and get support, then you are managing a mental health-friendly workplace. 

The 4 A’s of mental health-friendly workplace

You can use the 4 A’s a method to understand whether a workplace is mental health friendly. This approach was created by the Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP).

According to this framework, in a mental health-friendly workplace there should be Awareness regarding mental wellbeing. This includes strategies to create a supportive workplace. Furthermore, it is necessary at the workplace to be Accommodations –  conditions for mental wellbeing, such as flexible work arrangements. This framework also dictates that there should be Assistance for employees who have mental health conditions. Finally, through Access, employers should assess the healthcare plans and insurance of the company.

How to create a mental health-friendly workplace?

Creating a mental health-friendly workplace is a job that requires dedication. Companies need to put a lot of effort and energy into fostering a safe environment for their employees. While this is a time-consuming task, it certainly delivers good results. Every $1 you spend on emotional wellness, you will return $4 in improved health and productivity, according to the World Health Organization

So, what can you do to create an environment that supports and encourages mental wellbeing? Here are our tips to make it real:

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4 tips for creating a mental health-friendly workplace

  1. Give your employees access to mental health services

First of all, you should provide access to mental health services and share information about what tools are available for them. The resources can include everything from the in-house Employee Assistance Programme to referrals about external resources such as counselling and support groups. 

More specifically, you can create a mental well-being handbook where you explain in detail what employees can do when they experience mental health issues. Additionally, include information about the most common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression. Then follow up with who employees can talk to within the company about mental wellbeing. Then share what other resources are available to them. Furthermore, sharing information about external resources which may not be covered by the company or insurance will be useful for employees seeking help. 

A lot of companies, especially small and medium-sized ones, do not have enough resources to cover the counselling fees for their employees. However, this should not discourage you from trying your best to provide assistance to your team. Your willingness to support the mental well-being of your employees and be outspoken about mental health challenges is already a progress towards creating a better environment. 

If lack of adequate mental health support is a top concern in your company, there are resources such as SupportRoom that can help you fix it. SupportRoom offers flexible mental health support in the form of text, audio, and video therapy besides other valuable self-help resources. 

        2. Provide mental health training for managers

Mental health training programs are designed to help managers foster a mental health-friendly environment. Make sure that managers, who have the most one-on-one time with employees are involved in the training. This is important because they have the biggest opportunities to identify mental health challenges and help employees overcome them. If managers are comfortable with speaking about mental wellbeing, it will encourage other employees to do so. 

Overall, managers are your biggest asset in creating a safe environment that supports mental wellbeing. So, train managers and create a better environment with them. 

      3. Create a flexible working environment

Very often, a strict workplace environment leads employees to anxiety, stress, and overall poor mental health. It is very important that you create a workplace that actively does not cause stress among employees. Naturally, some aspects of work are stressful for all of us and they cannot be avoided. However, companies can create a more flexible environment that takes mental well-being into consideration. Examples of these are:

  • Do not ask for overtime work unless it is absolutely necessary
  • Encourage work-life balance
  • Allow working remotely when it is possible
  • Advocate for open conversation about mental wellbeing
  • Increase the number of personal day-offs, if possible

    4. Stress and conflict management training

Work-related stress can be a cause of employees’ poor mental health. Therefore, it is very important to teach your staff how to deal with stress and anxiety at the workplace. Furthermore, provide training about conflict management. A significant number of employees have noted that work-related stress is often caused by the conflicting situation with their supervisors or colleagues. Therefore, by addressing this issue you could improve the mental well-being of your staff and create a more peaceful workplace.

Making mental health a priority as part of your employee wellness program

Don’t forget that mental health is one of the greatest predictors of workplace happiness and productivity. Help your employees feel more in control of their stress and worries by giving them on-demand access to regular therapy sessions. SupportRoom’s dedicated team of therapists are always on the other side of the internet connection to help your employees talk about whatever is on their mind. 

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