What does a strong mental health culture look and feel like?

Published: 13/11/2020
Author: Leigh McKay, Mental Health and Wellbeing Consultant, Workwise Wellbeing Solutions

A strong mental health workplace culture can be the determinant between success and failure. Fostering good mental health amongst employees contributes towards reduced absenteeism and higher productivity, reduces the stigma and promotes recovery. In 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion each year in lost productivity.

The new way of working because of Covid-19 has some benefits and proves that remote teams can be effective. It has also normalised and opened more conversations to support Mental Health. It is important, however, to acknowledge that for some this has presented insurmountable challenges and the past few months can contribute to employees feeling unwell. In May 2020, the WHO advocated substantial investment to avert a global mental health crisis caused by the pandemic.

To this end developing a strong mental health culture is important and goes far beyond implementing policies and procedures. It is about organizations identifying the gaps in their current policies and understanding the new mental health challenges ahead specifically:

  • Financial anxiety
  • Concern around returning to the office
  • Prolonged isolation and feeling less connected
  • High stress levels
  • Burn out

What does a strong mental health culture feel like?

Culture exceeds ticking boxes, rather it is the behaviours and interactions shared by your people. It is not necessarily something that can be measured but it is a shift in behaviour that will strengthen the employee experience in the following ways;

  • When an employee feels comfortable asking for help
  • There is no fear of being judged
  • Job security and career progression remains
  • The signposting and support offered is easily recognisable and accessible for all
  • Your people can have open conversations about this topic

How can you promote this change in culture?

As a new hybrid working model uncovers, displaying empathetic leadership and positive mental health behaviours from the top will become increasingly important in creating this culture. Of further importance, recognizing that everyone has different needs, and providing the right resources and environment to help them feel confident to access support.

A key consideration is looking closely at the relationship between managers and their team members. Their regular interaction is a partnership to encourage as it can provoke whole organisation impact. Their unique position means they can not only notice signs of ill health but have a conversation to signpost and support too. This early intervention aids successful recovery. This is not to say that managers take on the role of counsellors, therapists or mental health practitioners. In arming your management team with education you will give them confidence to support whilst carrying on with their own specific roles.

Work Wise promotes sustainable wellbeing initiatives within organisations and communities. We are proud to be partnering with Vidatec to providing exclusive wellbeing content for Engage4, their new workplace wellbeing platform.

For more information and latest offers visit https://engage4.vidatec.com/

Find out more about the Mapping Mental Health for Managers training from Workwise Wellbeing Solutions.