By Avril Pratt
What is mental health?
Mental health is the way we think and feel and our ability to deal with ups and downs and is something we all have. Having good mental health allows us to have a sense of purpose and direction, energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives.
More than ever before, being busy at work is often seen as a badge of honour but there’s a fine line between busyness and burnout. Here at CMSE we understand how to recognise this tipping point.
In fact, 40% of employees are neglecting various aspects of their lives because due to their jobs. While one in three have admitted to be feeling down or unhappy as a result of their working hours , leading to an increase of 18% of workplace absences resulting in work-related stress, anxiety and depression? (Mentalhealth.org.uk, 2020)
What laws and regulations are there to deal with mental health in the Work Place?
It is crucial for employers and employees to know about their legislative rights and responsibilities in relation to mental health at work. Two of the most relevant pieces of legislation with regards to mental health are the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2011 and the Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. (Ictu.ie, 2020)
The purpose of the Employment Equality Acts 1998–2011 is to promote equality and prohibit discrimination across several grounds, including the ground most relevant to mental health: disability.
Under the Health and welfare at work act 2005, employers are required to have in place and adhere to a safety statement which outlines in detail, the measures taken to provide a safe and healthy workplace. Employers are also required to insure they are informed on the codes of practice on bullying and harassment in the workplace. In determining the psychosocial hazards that an employee may be exposed to in the workplace at any given time, the employer should:
- Identify potential psychosocial hazards in the workplace and detail the control measures to address the risk associated with these hazards, followed by informing the employees on the various hazards.
- Consult with all employees, including employees with disabilities, and seeking other expert advice as necessary. (Ictu.ie, 2020)
How employers can look after their employees’ mental health
Employers have a duty to fulfil, this is to care for their staff by taking appropriate steps to support them through any wellbeing-related issue. Although every person’s mental health journey is unique, and here are four ways to forge a path for open conversations about mental health and wellness in the workplace. (Mentalhealth.org.uk, 2020)
1. Promote a work/life balance.
Commending employees who work late and arrive early, or expecting them to work from home in the evenings inevitably, leads to hurting your company in the long run. Without implementing a healthy work/life balance, productivity is likely to decline, and employees are more likely to burn out.
Encouragement should be given everyone to develop a rich, full life outside of the office and results have proven that people who engage in hobbies, spend time with loved ones, and take time to care for themselves make better and healthier employees.
2. Discuss mental health in the workplace.
Make the workplace an open space where people aren’t afraid to bring up issues related to stress, depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. A caring and comforting conversation between a supervisor and an employee could be instrumental in encouraging an individual to get help. Make it clear that everyone struggles to stay mentally healthy sometimes.
3. Set up a network
Organisations should imbed wellbeing into the workplace by setting up a network of mental health coaches. These coaches can offer external services, such as informal chats or to provide professional advice on mental health.
4. Get moving
Take a break from your desk, stand up, and move around every 30 minutes or so. Walking during lunch is a will not only burn calories, but you’re refocusing and refreshing, which leads to a fresh mind, enabling you to perform to the best of your ability.