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  • 4 things your employees won’t tell you when it comes to mental health
4 things your employees won’t tell you when it comes to mental health

4 things your employees won’t tell you when it comes to mental health

Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand. There is firm evidence that high levels of positive mental wellbeing in the workplace can increase productivity. Encouraging positive relationships within your workforce can result in an enthusiastic and supportive team. 

Showing our vulnerability and being able to open up when we feel stressed and overwhelmed takes bravery and courage. Not everyone is prepared to do that in the midst of a crisis. However, it has been shown that seeking help is one of the healthiest and most powerful coping strategies. At Thrive, we try to encourage help-seeking through all that we do.

From June to October 2021, Thrive conducted a survey of employees’ support strategies during and beyond the covid-19 pandemic. 451 full-time UK workers aged between 18-65 years took part in the study. 

Here’s how you can improve mental wellbeing in the workplace.

1. Line managers rarely/never encourage conversations about mental health and wellbeing at work. 

Our study showed that 1 in 3 employees had this experience. The reasons can vary but it could be that managers simply don’t know how to have these conversations. 

“Is it OK to ask?”

“Will it feel like an intrusion?”

“Can these issues be discussed between a manager and employee at all?’

‘Are there any situations when I must act?”

Questions and doubts like these lead to managers acting “professional”. Even if they notice some troubling signs, they act as though the problem should not be discussed in the workplace. The problem could be what a member of their team might be facing. 

How can this be improved in the workplace?

The truth is, the more line managers encourage conversations around mental health, the more supported people will feel at work.

Organise mental health awareness training for line managers:

This will help to raise awareness of mental health problems that might affect people at work. It will reduce stigma around mental health and normalise the topic within your organisation. 

Support managers to improve their communication and listening skills by holding team training days:

By doing this you will support managers to gain the confidence they need to start conversations about mental health.

Empowering them with the tools and signposting they require to ensure that anyone who comes to them, gets the right level of support. Our therapy team regularly signpost and help with conversations. 

2. They are more likely to reach out to a colleague or a manager instead of a qualified mental health first-aider.

When we need to open up, we value an established relationship rather than knowledge and skills that a person can carry. Our survey revealed that employees are more likely to reach out to a colleague or a manager rather than go to a mental health first-aider.

With this in mind, having a handful of well-trained mental health first-aiders within your company is great, but it might not be enough. Line managers and their ability to build relationships will always play a crucial role in employees’ wellbeing. 

How can this be improved in the workplace?

Humanise the company culture:

Consider hosting regular informal meetings to help your employees get to know each other better.  This can include company retreats and introducing wellbeing initiatives.

Enable managers to bond with their team members frequently:

Encourage more one to one chats between manager and their team member. This is a chance to understand their needs and struggles, both inside and outside of work. 

Make mental health first-aiders more visible:

Encourage mental health first aiders to establish and extend their relationships with other team members across the organisation.

Creating a safe space for conversations about mental health - an image describing what these are. Have regular check-ins Acknowledge emotions and experiences, show genuine concern (include regular personal catch-ups into the working schedule; separate these from work-related meetings) Be visible Communicate your availability, especially when working remotely people might feel their leader is always busy - identify a particular time in your schedule when it's best to contact you regarding any issues or concerns. Take time to know more about people Understand their needs, circumstances and values. (What is going on in people's personal lives at the moment? What are they coping with outside of work? What are their personal goals and how do they align to their job tasks? Can you support them with any of these?) Provide feedback, show value and appreciation for ideas, recognise effort rather than just achievements.

3. When organisations communicate and provide the right support for mental health they are more likely to open up about their mental health struggles 

Some people think that employees with mental health problems are too lazy or don’t make enough effort to overcome them. Fearing to encounter such an attitude, results in many people refraining from reaching out for help at work. 

Many employees have a negative attitude towards mental health problems and when experiencing such issues, they feel embarrassed or ashamed of themselves and prefer not to ask for help. This is why it’s important to create a culture where mental health problems are openly and frequently discussed and normalised in the work environment. This will help employees to feel safe and comfortable to open up about an issue they are experiencing.

How can this be improved in the workplace?

Organise educational wellbeing webinars, workshops:  Plus other useful events at work – to show appreciation for mental health problems, reduce stigma among employees and managers and encourage people to seek help when needed.

Signpost people to other wellbeing initiatives: There are many charity and wellbeing websites, podcasts and video channels out there that can support your employees with their mental health. 

4. When having a mental health problem, they are more likely to use a mental health app or a website than talk to someone

It’s true. Our findings revealed that people are more likely to use an app rather than talk to a relative, colleague or manager at work. This might be because when a person does not have enough trust or confidence in a relationship, they would rather try a self-help solution.

Our research also revealed that readiness to access help through a digital solution at the time of testing was significantly higher than before the pandemic, which could be due to increasing awareness of these resources since the pandemic started.

Compared to people working in a traditional office or a hybrid work environment, those working remotely are more likely to use a digital self-help solution and less likely to access help at work. That’s why, if you have employees working remotely, giving employees complimentary access to digital self-help solutions, such as Thrive, could be a positive and powerful tool for your workforce. 

How can Thrive improve mental wellbeing in the workplace?

There are many actions to take away from this article that may be useful to improve the mental wellbeing within your organisation. While it may seem like a lot, implementing Thrive into your business is beneficial. It will improve the wellbeing of your employees and our team will provide you with all the tools you need to promote the software internally. 

If you want to learn more about what we can offer, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you!

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