Posted on February 4th 2021 - Jason Desaulniers
As an employer, it’s critical that you create a working environment that is supportive of mental health at work.
Mental health initiatives at work are extremely important.
According to the Government of Canada, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental health problem or mental illness each year.
In 2011 alone, mental health problems and illnesses cost Canadian employers more than $6 billion in lost productivity and absenteeism.
How many of your employees are under pressure and stressed at work?
Do you know if any are battling depression or anxiety?
If these seem like difficult questions to answer, it’s because they are difficult questions. Mental health is difficult to talk about, and it’s even more challenging to live with.
While mental illness is something that is being talked about more in public many people, especially at work, feel as if their problems aren’t important.
By providing your staff with resources and building up a culture where positive mental health is encouraged, your team will feel a lot happier working for you. Here are five ways you can help support employees that are struggling with their mental health.
1. Learn to recognize mental health signs at work
When people have significant challenges in their home or work life, it can impact or put a strain on their mental well-being.
There are a lot of different symptoms or signs that you can look out for when it comes to mental health problems, including:
- Your employee is negatively affecting others who work with them
- Their mood has changed and has been down for a few weeks
- They seem a lot more tired than usual
- Your employee isn’t putting in the same amount of effort they used to
- They’re making uncharacteristic mistakes
- They’re finding it hard to motivate themselves
- They’re isolating themselves from others
- They’ve become a bit short-tempered
- They take on more work than they can manage
More disruptive signs of mental health problems at work can include outbursts of anger or emotion, absence from work, or a dip in their personal hygiene.
Drinking more heavily and sleeping less is also a huge indicator that an employee might be going through mental health issues.
2. Encourage employees to ask for help
Everybody gets overwhelmed and tired from time to time, and when things don’t go as we planned, it can get very frustrating.
Sometimes, when things build-up, it can affect our mental health.
Unfortunately, despite a lot of progress in recent years, there’s still a lot of stigma around mental health – which could be one of the reasons your employees aren’t raising their hands and looking for help.
The first step to encouraging your employees to ask for help is to help beat the stigma.
You can do this by:
- Not treating mental illness as a taboo
- Sharing mental health resources with all your employees
- Talking about positive mental health more around the office
- Helping your employees know that they aren’t alone
As an employer, it’s important that you look out for your employees and encourage them to ask for help if they need it.
You should always tell them that your door is open if they need to talk to you about anything.
Consider talking to BPGS about adding Paramedical Practitioner Services to your group benefits plan. This allows your employees access to services such as Licensed Clinical Psychologists and Psychotherapists.
3. Suggest taking mental health days off
A lot of people take days off for a bad cold, the flu and other illnesses, but a lot of the time, people don’t consider their mental health a good reason to take a day off.
Giving your mind and body a break for a moment can sometimes be the best thing you can do for yourself if you’re having a bad mental health day. This is the same for your employees.
If you make your employees hand in a sick note from a doctor or provide a ‘legitimate’ reason for not being at work, then you might want to consider a different approach.
Mental health is a legitimate reason for not being at work, and if one of your employees is struggling, encouraging them to take a day off might be the best thing for them.
Your employee might take their day off and feel more refreshed and energized for work the next day.
This will not only make your employees feel more comfortable about working in your company, but you’ll be helping prevent any serious health issues (and more time off) down the line.
4. Make your employees aware of the Employee Assistance Program
Introduce your staff to the Employee Assistance Program so they can take better care of their own mental health.
This is a service that’s confidential and can be accessed without you, their employer, even knowing. It’s completely free for your employees and can give them a lot of beneficial resources about mental health.
They can get access to:
- E-counselling and telephone counselling
- 900+ trained mental health professionals
- 24-hour crisis and referral center
- Completely confidential, non-judgemental support
5. Encourage a healthy lifestyle
Healthy eating and exercise can affect mood drastically. Healthy foods can make us feel better about ourselves and exercise boosts our adrenaline, gets the heart going, and makes us feel alive.
Exercise is even known to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression in some people, and a brisk walk or simple routine can give somebody several hours of relief from depression.
Eating raw fruit and vegetables can also improve your mood and provide you with better mental health.
In the workplace, you should encourage your employees to get outside on their lunch breaks and go for walks (weather permitting!). Try to pack your vending machines or staff room with healthy snack options.
Do you or your staff need further guidance on healthy eating and lifestyle choices? Ask BPGS about the Chamber of Commerce Group Insurance Plan’s Paramedical Practitioner Services coverage for Clinical Dietitians and Naturopaths.
Your mental health, and the mental health of your staff, is important and it’s necessary to keep your employees happy and healthy. We hope these tips on how to support mental health at work have helped you. If you have any questions, then feel free to get in contact with us.
With offices in Cold Lake and Ft. McMurray, BP Group Solutions is strategically located to provide employee solutions and personal advice for people and businesses across northeastern Alberta — with guaranteed friendly service.