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While organisations are working hard to encourage people to talk more openly about mental health, it can still be a very difficult subject to broach. But with research indicating large numbers of professionals suffer from mental health issues, including anxiety or depression, it’s clear that more needs to be done to raise awareness.

This is especially true as our data shows that nearly half of Brits feel their job is a key contributor to these feelings. Alongside this, many workers confessed that their mental health has an impact on their working life.

Whether that’s every now and again or all of the time, it’s important that businesses are doing all they can to support those in need.

We’ve put together six tips for employers looking to support their staff with mental health issues.

1. Educate yourself

Mental health can be hard to understand. Plus, it’s a delicate subject to tackle. Though there is no one-size-fits-all approach, gaining a better understanding of what it means and how it impacts people can be useful. In fact, most professionals believe employers should receive training to help them understand it in more detail.

This includes appointing and training designated Mental Health First Aiders within the team, and promoting an environment in which everyone is able to educate themselves on the most common types of mental illnesses, their symptoms, and how best to address them.

You don’t have to have extensive knowledge of every mental illness out there, but having a basic understanding of how bad mental health can make people feel and how to access help is a great place to start.

2. Take a proactive approach

During your research, make sure you educate yourself on the tell-tale signs that someone is suffering from a mental illness. You can then apply your findings to your own employees.

If you notice someone is behaving differently, that they have become withdrawn when they’re normally very bubbly, or they have begun taking more sick days than usual, these could all be red flags.

Most importantly, don’t leave it too late! It can be easy to assume that people will come to you if they want support, but this isn’t always the case. Despite conversations about these types of illnesses now coming into the public arena, many people still feel embarrassed or ashamed talking about their mental health.

If you suspect a team member might be suffering, organise a catch-up with them. It’s best you avoid asking them outright if they have mental health issues; this could end up causing tension. Instead, suggest that they haven’t been themselves of late, and offer them the opportunity to come forward if they choose to.

Unfortunately, not everyone will feel comfortable asking for help. So don’t pressure them. By taking this proactive approach you could help your employees to open up about what’s going on, and begin to tackle the issue.

3. Keep an open-door policy

Create a friendly and communicative environment where your employees feel like they can approach you for help at any time. Keeping an open-door policy means employees will feel more comfortable speaking to you if they’re facing any challenges.

If their mental health issues are affecting their work, or their work is affecting their mental health, it’s vital they can talk to you about this, so you can both begin to address the problem.

4. Consider introducing ‘mental health days’

One approach that is becoming more common (though not common enough) is the introduction of ‘mental health days’. Many of us feel guilty enough taking a day off for a physical ailment, let alone a mental one. We often feel like we have to justify our illness, proving that we really are sick; this can feel even harder with a mental illness.

But the truth is, mental health sick days are just as important as any other. Businesses are increasingly recognising the importance of taking time out to work on your health.

Though some employers may be concerned that staff will take advantage of mental health days, introducing this system into your workplace can be a huge help for those who are suffering.

Truth is, professionals are just that – professional! So they’re unlikely to take advantage of these days unless they really need to. Offering them can help to build a better company culture, and proves to staff that you care about their happiness and wellbeing.

5. Facilitate professional help

It’s one thing to be open about having mental health issues, but it’s also important to take positive steps towards feeling better. You can play a huge part in this recovery. You’re likely to find that most workers would appreciate professional help being offered through their employer.

Though it might not be feasible to have on-site therapists, or even to fund local practices, you can take other steps. Simply providing a leaflet with contact numbers or websites where staff can look for help is a great step towards supporting your employees.

6. Don’t let work be the problem

Whether or not their job is the main contributor towards their mental health issues, you never want your employees to feel worse because of work. For this reason, it’s important that you encourage all staff to adopt a good work-life balance, particularly those who are suffering.

Not only this, but if you’re aware that a team member is struggling, find out if their workload or daily tasks are adding to the pressure. If they are, consider how you can help with their work, or ask a colleague to support them with their daily tasks.

Our research shows that one of the biggest causes of anxiety or depression among workers is the fact that they doubt their abilities. If this is the case, offer your employees opportunities to undergo more training. It may be that they don’t need a great deal, but even just a refresher course could help them to feel more confident.

Help employees with mental health issues

There is still a great deal of work to be done to remove the stigma around mental health. The most important thing as an employer is to create an environment in which staff feel able to raise issues and seek help in facing challenges. Encourage a culture where it’s normal to ask how someone is feeling, and to care about the answer and be prepared to offer support where necessary.

For most people, just knowing that they are supported will go a very long way towards helping them take steps to seek help.

Good communication, a positive working environment and a pro-active approach will all stand you in good stead for supporting your team and creating a happy and productive workforce.

Source and Credit: CV Library Content Team