How to implement positive mental health programmes in the workplace

11th May 2021

Despite increased media coverage, there is still a stigma associated with mental health. We need to remove or reduce that stigma. There are no easy answers or sure-fire solutions. However, by creating space and time to talk about wellbeing, we can ensure that we are able to support those who suffer with their mental wellbeing and improve our own resilience.

Managing people requires a variety of skills. You need to navigate productivity, personal development and personal wellbeing of your staff. When you think of the mental wellbeing of the people you manage there can be a number of things you need to think about.

But how can you as a manager improve the wellbeing of employees within the working environment?  It will depend on the specific nature of your team and the challenges that they are facing.

One key thing is being aware of people’s stress signs.  Some people comfort eat, others socialise, others talk a lot, others go quiet.  The more your team are aware of (and talk about) their individual stress signs, the more they can notice them personally – and the more the team can support them as a group.

For example, it might be that one person talks a lot when stressed and can disrupt the team.  One approach here might be to try out different conversations in different locations.  This will support that person’s need to talk, while not disrupting the rest of the team.

Wellness Action Plans

Enlightened organisations invest in positive mental health programmes.  Many of them have started to work with staff to develop individual Wellness Action plans. Such a plan has eight key elements.  To come up with one for yourself, reflect on each of these eight questions, and think about how you would answer them. In other words – what can you do to help yourself?

  1. What helps you stay mentally healthy at work?
  2. What can your manager do to help you stay mentally healthy at work?
  3. Are there any situations that can trigger poor mental health for you?
  4. How might stress/poor mental health impact your work?
  5. What are the early warning signs that might be noticed by others?
  6. What support could be put in place to minimise triggers, or to support you?
  7. If the warning signs are noticed, what should we do?
  8. Are there any working preferences that others need to be aware of?

With teams, it can often be best to start simply and grow your wellness team plan.  The plan is not legally binding but more of an agreement between you and your team members.  It can also include any adjustments they might need to support them.

Some simple things you can do are to organise a regular team lunch – maybe after payday.  Or if your team are still working remotely, you could organise a breakfast over Zoom.   Simply create a relaxed meeting space where you find out how each other are.  If you wanted, you could add in a ‘wellness awareness’ element, like the best foods to start the day with – or what to eat to kick-start your afternoon energy.

If you want to be more ambitious, you could arrange lunchtime walks.  Not in the office?  Could you do a catch-up call with your line manager whilst you’re out for a walk? Walking is a great way to make talking relaxing.

What you must always remember, just because people look well, it doesn’t mean they feel ok under the surface.  Be compassionate, and try not to make assumptions.

There are many approaches to looking after not only your own mental wellbeing, but also those of your team and colleagues.  We’ve explored a couple of starting points for you and your team’s wellbeing here.  The key message here is that wherever you are starting from is the best place to start. Give something different a go, review it, tweak it, get people on board with it – and then make it a habit.

If you want to find out more about our Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace eLearning course then contact us today for a free demo.

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