Every year in the UK we have Mental Health Awareness Week. This year it ran from the 9th to the 15th May 2022 (and its running 15th – 21st May in 2023) with many organisations taking part and flooding their social media channels with support for the campaign. It’s a fantastic idea to help normalise conversations around an area which for some is still a bit taboo.
My question would be, why is it only so loudly spoken about during this week? Wouldn’t it be great if organisations treated everyday of the year like it was Mental Health Awareness Week and really made it part of their culture?
Actions Not Words
So how can your business do this?
Starting with the most important... you need to talk to your people regularly. Lack of communication can cause real issues as it can leave people feeling out of the loop and be a cause of great stress and anxiety.
So to avoid negatively impacting peoples mental health, you just need to communicate more and more with them. There’s nothing wrong with over-communication – better to have too much than too little. It's all about balance.
Line managers should also make time for regular check-ins with their team. A simple ‘how are you?’ can mean a lot and be a gateway to conversations that make the employee feel heard and valued. This is vital for those that work from home, as the isolation of not being office-based and having less daily conversations can be a big contributing factor to having a negative headspace.
For those who don’t feel comfortable talking openly, having other confidential outlets, like employee surveys for example. Feedback is important!
Linked to the previous point is to have a culture based on flexible working. How can we expect people to embrace healthy behaviors if w make them feel bad for having a doctor’s appointment or wanting to finish early to attend their child’s sports day?
The past few years have shown that the technology exists to let workers work from anywhere and their efficiency levels didn’t drop because they were working from home. So we need to do better at encouraging this and ensuring people feel empowered & trusted to work when (and where) they need to. Showing this trust can only benefit the culture.
3. Repeated Behaviours
It’s all about repeated behaviours. Hopefully the suggestions above have given you a few ideas of how you can put the wellbeing and mental health of your people on the agenda every day.
It all comes down to behaviour and repeating these behaviours to maintain a positive working environment for everyone. If your organisation has managers leading by example and encouraging workers to switch off, work flexibly and feel comfortable talking about any potential struggles, then you’re on the right track.
Happy People Work Wonders ;)