Mental health always seems to be something that we as a society tiptoe around, however paying attention to mental health within the workplace has never been more important, especially in the current climate. From the outside, it might seem like the mental health of your colleagues can be stressful to manage, but it’s key to remember that mental health at work isn’t there to add to your pressures as an employer, it's there for you to understand your employees even better and guide them in the right direction.

According to research conducted by Oxford University, happy employees are 13% more productive. And yet, 67% of employees feel scared, embarrassed or unable to talk about mental health concerns with their employer. As problems go unnoticed, it begins to affect their output and productivity and  relationships with  managers and co-workers can easily  break down.

With over 70 million working days lost each year due to mental health, organisations need to send a clear signal that mental health is just as important as physical health and will be treated in the same way. It should be communicated that mental health will not be discriminated against and that confidential conversations will lead to support, not judgement or sanctions.

Why talking openly about mental health is important

If your employees feel they can talk openly about mental health, problems are less likely to build up and the benefits are tenfold. This could lead to:

  • Less time off for a mental health issue
  • Improved morale in the workplace
  • Better business performance
  • More loyal employees
  • Creating a culture of acceptance
  • Talent attraction and retention

The benefits of both talking about and helping to manage mental health in the workplace are clearly invaluable, but how can you get started? One thing we recommend is to have a mental health first aider in your team. This not only shows your commitment to mental health and valuing it as highly as physical health, but it also means that a staff member will be trained and equipped to deal with any scenarios that arise.

What can quality mental health training help do?

  • Build employees’ confidence to have open conversations around mental health and break the stigma
  • Encourage people to access support early when needed, for a faster recovery
  • Empower people with a long-term mental health issue or disability to thrive in work
  • Promote a mentally healthy environment, stopping preventable issues and allowing people to thrive and become more productive

1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety or depression in any given week in England alone, so it’s crucial that we take the subject of mental health seriously, and break the taboo.

Our tips for supporting mental health in the workplace

  • Create a safe environment where people feel comfortable either sharing their feelings, or just taking five to be on their own and have a moment by themselves
  • Talk about it - a problem shared is a problem halved so communication really is key, especially in these uncertain times
  • Make reasonable adjustments
  • Invest in a wellbeing programme - one of our personal favourites is Sanctus
  • Make sure you have a mental health first aider

Here at hackajob, we have an open door policy and internal employee wellbeing is our number one priority. With the current climate, it can be easier to not pay attention to your employees mental health because you can’t physically see them, but it’s now more important than ever to check in and make sure that everyone individually is doing ok.

Want to learn more about mental health in the workplace? Make sure to read our previous blog where we talk about how to avoid burnout. Alternatively, our guide to hiring remote teams is also a great place to start.