Mental Health: The Newest Workplace Safety Topic

As an employer, the push for better mental health management has taken a front seat in today’s workplace. Sometimes, mental health issues can go undetected until it’s too late, and serious consequences occur—placing the person and others in danger. Beyond extreme situations, simply helping to boost the mental well-being of your workers will help improve job satisfaction, productivity and the mood of your work environment.

Five Guidelines to Improve Workers’ Mental Health

You can help to make yours an inclusive and supportive work environment with the following:

  1. Keep an open door. Let your workers know they can always talk to you with questions and concerns about stress, workload, work-life balance, employee conflicts, and more. Since it’s somewhat of a taboo topic, employees may feel sensitive bringing up issues related to their mental health. But your understanding and open ears will help put your workers at ease.
  2. Encourage breaks and time off. It may seem simple, but everyone needs time away to rest and recharge. Ensure your workers take their allotted breaks during the workday, and use their vacation time throughout the year.
  3. Offer employee assistance. As part of a healthcare benefits package, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can be a great self-help resource when workers feels too embarrassed to bring up their feelings. EAPs offer phone and in-person counseling when the going gets tough, and employees can self-refer themselves when they feel they need extra support and guidance.
  4. Provide education. Regular in-service meetings about the importance of mental well-being are an important way to remind your workers you care, and that help is available if they need it. In addition, regular 1:1s to review each employee’s workload and talk about their performance is a great way to keep communication open.
  5. Pay attention. Signs that work and life may be weighing heavily on an employee can include increased absences or illnesses, irritability and other mood swings, and decreased performance. Signs of deeper mental health concerns include lack of personal hygiene and general disregard for appearance, plus noticeable changes in personality. Pay attention to your workers, and train your managers and supervisors to do the same.

Mental Health is Everyone’s Job

It’s up to you to support your workers’ mental well-being, but also up to them to take good care of themselves. Remind your staff of the importance of mental health, and of the resources available to them.

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