Three Interventions That Can Really Support Mental Health
In the UK, many of those who identify as disabled live with invisible illnesses such as diabetes, chronic pain and mental well-being. Specifically, mental health well-being is one of the main reasons for identifying as disabled in the UK.[i] With anxiety levels rising during the pandemic, this year’s World Mental Health Day, October 10, could be more important than ever. Recent figures from Mind Cymru have revealed that nearly two in three adults believe their mental health and well-being has deteriorated since the first nationwide lockdown in March 2020.[ii]
Hidden conditions such as mental well-being are generally poorly understood in the workplace, remote working has made it more difficult to identify mental well-being among coworkers, ensuring that they are sufficiently supported . For many, the coworkers we have seen on a daily basis have been replaced by 2D versions of themselves with which we only interact through a computer screen. It’s incredibly easy to forget that while we all struggle, people with mental health issues find these issues exacerbated and more difficult to manage. This lack of daily face-to-face contact also contributes to managers not knowing if – and how – their staff is in difficulty.
Difficulties reading body language through a computer screen, increasing work pressures and less ‘informal’ time spent talking to staff mean it is becoming increasingly difficult for employers to identify and support appropriately employees who do not adapt. mental health in the workplace and understand how to best support an employee struggling with their mental health. I would say the most positive step an employer can take is to ensure that arrangements and practices are in place to improve the mental health and well-being of all employees. Employers owe a duty of care to their staff; they are responsible for understanding what causes stress and anxiety within their teams. Proactively limiting these triggers or making reasonable adjustments in the workplace can ensure that staff can do their jobs effectively.
When it comes to promoting good well-being at work and supporting colleagues with mental health issues and other hidden disabilities in the workplace, some reasonable adjustments can make all the difference, for example, develop a supportive culture; offer staff the opportunity to discuss their well-being in an environment in which they feel comfortable doing so; and having policies or practices in place that reflect this can help ensure that mental health issues and other hidden disabilities are not seen as a failure. Rather, it is an additional barrier to success that employer and employee must overcome together.
To remove these barriers for me, open conversation was key as well as a feeling of being heard. How employers communicate with staff is a key factor in how employees react when experiencing stress and poor mental health. Managers must cultivate open and supportive relationships with their employees by establishing regular and informal âcheck-insâ when working remotely. Celebrating small accomplishments is especially important in today’s climate. When working in the office, we need to make sure that we engage in casual celebrations or gestures, like making a cup of tea for a coworker after a difficult meeting.
With many of us now sitting behind screens, we slip into a culture of isolation, working alone and not having that face-to-face time to express our appreciation for others. It’s important that we replicate face-to-face cheering online, like using the rewards feature on Teams to let a colleague know that they’ve done a good job, or texting them to make sure he knows he is appreciated. “
The pandemic has also seen the lines between professional and personal life blur. In general, many workers have experienced higher workloads due to staff members on leave as well as fewer social opportunities outside of work due to COVID-19 restrictions. This has led many of us to work longer hours and socialize less outside of work, leaving us stressed out. Those who work from home operate from their personal space, which can make it difficult to draw a clear line between work and personal life. Without the ritual of leaving a workplace or having the physical distance between home and office, it’s increasingly difficult to disconnect.
For those who have worked in face-to-face environments, security and well-being stresses have also intensified during the pandemic, with key frontline staff in many sectors feeling the pressure.
In my opinion, it is important for employers to demonstrate that the well-being of staff and work-life balance is a priority. Whether to clarify, it is understood that people may not be online when emails are sent in the evening or just to promote this post, encouraging your team to take short breaks throughout the day. It could be a 5 minute quiz or a coffee chat, taking five minutes away from your desk can help boost morale and de-stress.
Adapting to the impacts of Covid-19 personally and professionally has brought immense pressure and the need to ‘get through it’. Therefore, I think now is the perfect time for employers and managers to discuss wellness with their employees. Encouraging staff to voice their concerns and find constructive solutions has never been more necessary.
Knowing what support is available is important to make sure you are not alone. As an employer in Wales you have access to a number of programs providing specialist resources and services to help you better support the mental health of your team.
Personally, I have already had access to help from the work support service which is available in North West and South West Wales and is being extended to help people absent from work. due to illness in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion from October 2021.
The service is designed to help people employed in Wales manage their mental health and physical conditions by providing them with prompt access to suitable occupational and physiotherapy. If a member of your team is struggling with mental health, they can contact the service and speak directly to a specialist counselor to get the extra support or help they need.
It offers free support and training for micro, small and medium enterprises, including tailor-made support to help employers identify the welfare needs of their workforce and implement a support program. for their employees.
I have had mental health issues and this has had an impact on my professional life at times. I have benefited from the fact that employers take action and take action to help the mental health of their staff – from informal checks with managers to companies that openly advocate a healthy work-life balance. I also found the Workplace Assistance Service particularly helpful. This was suggested to me by my employer as I struggled with my mental health during a particularly stressful time at work. The extra support relieved my manager and acted as a friendly face and a point of contact that I could chat with.
That’s why I think it’s so important for companies to make reasonable adjustments to support their employees struggling with mental health issues. Thanks to the support I received, I am now more productive and much happier at work. It’s important to remember that a small adjustment can go a long way in maintaining a mentally healthy workforce.
In addition to the Work Support Service, the Welsh Government is funding a range of other support initiatives, including Healthy Working Wales, a work program provided by Public Health Wales. The program helps employers develop and maintain environments, policies and cultures that promote good health and support the appropriate and timely return to work of those absent from work due to illness.
With the continued easing of the Welsh government’s lockdown measures, Healthy Working Wales continues to support the prevention of transmission of Covid-19 in the workplace, including developing guidelines and updating its one-stop shop information and resources, including podcasts, thematic resources, case studies and virtual workshops. https://phw.nhs.wales/services-and-teams/healthy-working-wales/
The Welsh government has extended its support for low-level mental health issues. Support is open to everyone and does not need to be referred by a health professional. More information is available on the 111 website (https://111.wales.nhs.uk/encyclopaedia/m/article/mentalhealthandwellbeing)
For more information on how your business can attract, recruit and retain employees with disabilities, including those with mental disorders and / or other hidden disorders, contact the Disability Employment Champions by sending a email to [email protected] or visit Skills Gateway for Business.
Holly MacDougall-Corbin has been named Disability Employment Champion by the Welsh Government. Holly works in partnership with Business Wales to provide businesses with tailored advice on how they can become a more inclusive employer by attracting, recruiting and retaining employees with disabilities.