Time to talk about mental health at work
Posted by Jen Derrick on 4 February 2021

Today is Time to Talk Day – the day that encourages the nation to talk to one another about mental health. This year, open conversations are more vital than ever. Mental health affects one in four of us, but some of us feel afraid to tell others how we really feel, resulting in feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Speech marks

The more conversations we have, the more we can combat the stigma around mental health once and for all. Workplaces in particular lag behind when it comes to talking about mental health. Research undertaken by statistics agency Optimum in 2020 revealed that 77% of managers recognise and agree that businesses need more support and education around mental wellbeing in the workplace.

To help champion change at work, we’ve put together some tips on how to encourage more open conversations around mental health. Read on to discover more.

Organise regular group mindfulness sessions

Setting up group sessions to talk about mindfulness can be a great way to encourage employees to chat about mental health. You could centre it around a key theme such as signs and symptoms of anxiety. If you run these sessions on a monthly basis, try to cover different topics for every session to get the conversation flowing each time. You could hold the next meeting on self-care, for example.

Create a quiz

Organise a quiz around mental health issues and then hold small breakout group conversations over tea, coffee and biscuits to encourage employees to chat openly about their answers. This is a nice and informal way to get your organisation talking. You could even encourage this remotely by sending out nice biscuits or treats in the post.

Set up a sticky note board 

Set up a board and ask employees to write down on sticky notes how they are feeling, describing what they say, think and feel at that moment in time. This is an ideal activity for those staff members who perhaps feel anxious about discussing their feelings in front of others. Sometimes it’s much easier to write your thoughts down rather than say them out loud.

Devise clear policies about taking time off

Creating clear policies around illness and ensuring that mental health is at the heart of these can help demonstrate that your organisation cares about its staff members. Employees will then have the reassurance that if they are struggling, they won’t be penalised or frowned upon.

Internal mentors

Putting a mentor scheme in place can significantly benefit mental wellbeing at work. Research conducted by Optimum revealed that those companies who had mentoring schemes had 31% of staff with a significantly above average mental wellbeing. Providing a listening ear for those employees experiencing emotional distress not only helps individuals with their mental health, but can also direct them to the right places to access more specialised support.

Counselling services

Offering counselling services as part of your company’s benefit package can provide a helpful support mechanism for employees when they need to use it. These could be arranged either face-to-face or over the phone. Not everyone can afford to get support or perhaps don’t feel like they are worthy of it, so having this sort of benefit in place can be especially appreciated.

Create a culture that nurtures mental wellbeing

Perhaps most important of all is creating a culture that nurtures mental wellbeing from the offset. Engraining mental health in your company’s values and feeding these down from the top is likely to have a lasting impact on your organisation. It’s all well and good having mental health initiatives in place every now and then, but there needs to be a cultural shift in attitudes for change to successfully continue over the long-term.

Woman with a laptop saying mental health

For more support on mental wellbeing, take a look at our toolkits which provide useful guides and templates on how to promote wellbeing at work.

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