Mental Health in the Workplace
During my time as a Manager in various organisations, my experience of mental health has led me to believe that whilst an employee may be suffering mental health issues in the workplace, it is highly unlikely you will be able to implement a policy or process in the workplace that will resolve it. I have found that on the occassions I have had to deal with employees’ mental health issues, it is often not the office that is the problem. What Managers are likely to be confronted with are the symptoms of deeper social problems.
Mental Health Actions We Can Take to Help
When I have looked into the various instances of mental health that I have been involved with, there has been an overriding similarity with all of them. The individuals experiencing these feelings are normally going through or have been through, a period of change in their lives. This could have been anything from leaving school to go to work, issues with partners or children at home, money issues and bereavement.
Whilst I am no psychologist, I have tried to understand these underlying problems and if I or the Company, could adjust anything at work to improve their working environment to help them overcome their symptoms.
It is also worth mentioning here that very few of the mental health issues I have come across seem to have originated from the workplace. In most cases the individuals involved have been experiencing symptoms of mental health problems for many years and these symptoms have simply got better or worse at different times of their lives. Having talked through their difficulties in some depth, the only thing in their lives that I could associate with this phenomenon is that they have been through a period of change.
Some of the things you can consider implementing in your workplace in order to try and lessen the impact of mental health problems experienced at work are listed below:
- shorter breaks, but more of them
- implementing self-help groups at work
- encouraging more fitness
- taking up relaxing hobbies
- offering professional help
I have never tried to resolve the actual problem an individual may be faced with by changing the workplace. I have only implemented changes to try and lessen the impact of symptoms. Unless the individual’s feelings are emanating from the workplace itself, you are not going to be able to solve mental health with a few policy and procedure changes, but you may just be able to make a positive difference to the employee with a few changes.