Poor mental health is one of the biggest issues in the workplace today and can range from the more commonly experienced symptoms of stress or anxiety, right through to more complex conditions, such as depression.

As well as having a huge impact on individual employees, poor mental health has serious repercussions for employers, such as sickness absence, burnout and exhaustion, decreased motivation and productivity, and increased staff turnover.

Good mental health should be a priority for any business. The first step is to ensure there is a clear HR policy and good line management relationships, with engagement of staff in decision making. Managers or senior staff may require some training to recognise the early signs of a mental health condition and put strategies in place to support staff that are affected.

Businesses can use initiatives such as World Mental Health Day to bring the subject into the open and find out what mental health means to the workforce, and what your organisation are doing about it. Addressing the stigma is critical to ensuring that people can come forward and seek help.

It’s important to safeguard the mental health of your workforce by creating an open and caring culture that makes staff feel supported and looked after. Here are some practical ways to develop a strategy for effective mental health and wellbeing in the workplace:

  • Develop a Mental Health Policy which reassures employees that their company cares about their wellbeing and encourages employees to talk about mental health.
  • Communication – Use staff newsletters, posters in communal areas and other internal communications to raise awareness of mental health. Conduct regular staff surveys to check on wellbeing and feedback the results to staff.
  • Ensure key staff are trained in mental health matters and have the time to build a good relationship with their team so they know they are approachable.
  • Assess working practices to ensure staff have time to take a break and they aren’t working to unrealistic deadlines or goals.