Work-based stress can cause or exacerbate mental health issues, however, there are things that employers can do to help alleviate issues and support their staff where needed.
Whether you’re dealing with difficult customers, facing a mountain of paperwork, or even dealing with abusive situations, there are techniques and tools that employers can use to make sure their staff feel supported and not alone.
An open-door policy for management
Management needs to be accessible. If an employee has a concern, they need to feel like they can bring it to their manager without feeling like a burden.
This one is particularly important if you are in a role that involves dealing with emotional or confrontational situations, but it should be available for all employees. If we hold in all the emotions about work-based stress, not only is that detrimental to our own wellbeing, but it can make us less productive and lower morale. Having the chance to offload with a manager or HR representative means that we have the opportunity to feel like we’ve been heard, and to get our worries off our chest. It also means that management is aware of any ongoing issues and can put additional support in place.
Flexibility for medical appointments
Many people feel unable to make medical appointments as it would mean having to take time off work. This means that people are coming into work sick, which is not only bad for them but also again lowers their productivity and could eventually lead them to having to go off long-term sick if the problem becomes worse through being untreated.
Understanding about sick leave for mental illness
In the same vein as the previous point, employers need to be more understanding about employees taking sick leave for mental health reasons. If someone is struggling with their mental health, we need to be as understanding as if someone is struggling with a physical illness, rather than putting unnecessary stress and guilt on someone for looking after their mental health.
Mental health awareness and mental health first aid training
Again, linked to the last point, it is important that all staff are given mental health awareness training. This may encourage someone to come forward if they themselves are struggling, or it may help someone else to identify another person as being at risk, and maybe start a conversation with them. Mental health first aid training is also crucial in case of a mental health emergency occurring in the workplace.
What kind of mental health support would you like to see in the workplace? Do you have an example of excellent practice? Let me know in the comments.