As something everyone has probably suffered with at some point, maintaining your mental health is just as important as maintaining physical health. According to mentalhealth.org, addressing mental health at work increases productivity by 12%.
Steps to protect your mental health at work
Work is a big part of life, so protecting your mental health and practising self-care at work is essential to feeling happy and healthy. Keeping active is a simple way to promote positivity and something that you can do in your break at work. Going for a walk outdoors for 15 or 30 minutes will help boost your self-esteem and make you feel energised and ready to tackle the rest of the day. Opening up and talking to colleagues or your manager is another way to look after your mental health – use 121’s as an opportunity to discuss any challenges you’re facing or tell a colleague if you’re not feeling great mentally. Just telling someone else your thoughts and feelings will help you feel like a weight has been lifted off your chest.
This one may seem obvious but eating well, will also make you feel well. Maintaining a healthy diet at work can be a challenge but choosing healthy meal options and drinking enough water goes a long way towards helping your mental health. Find some like-minded colleagues who are also trying to eat healthily and you can support each other by sharing recipes and staying in touch outside of work for moral support with your healthy eating.
Making reasonable adjustments in the workplace
Employees who are suffering from mental health problems are protected from discrimination and harassment and entitled to reasonable adjustments to adapt to their job or work. This is in line with The Equality Act (2010) in England, Scotland and Wales and the Disability Discrimination Act, 1995 in Northern Ireland.
Reasonable adjustments for mental health issues problems might include changing someone’s working hours to suit their medication needs/side effects or making the job more flexible so that an employee can work from home when they are having a bad mental health day. Employers must also protect people from harassment or discrimination due to their mental health.
Supporting employees who are off work due to mental health
While employees are on sick leave, it’s more important than ever to support them from a distance. Keeping regular contact with an employee who is off work due to their mental health is the best way to provide the support they need and let them know you care. Make sure you keep contact informal and friendly, to avoid putting unnecessary pressure on them. Some other helpful things that you can do are asking them what they’d like their colleagues to be told regarding their absence, inviting them on work social events and even inviting them for a coffee with you before they return to work. This will prevent feelings of awkwardness and exclusion and make them feel comfortable. Once they’re back at work, discuss and agree on how you can support them on an everyday basis to help with their condition.