How to invest in a mental health strategy
https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/get-involved/get-your-workplace-involved/employer-pledgeWork-related stress and mental health have received a lot of coverage, including our own in depth review of employee absence 'Happier employees = better business' that looks at the effects of stress and mental health and the proactive steps you can take in your business.
But whilst we can all agree on the reasons why you should address mental health in the workplace;
- It ensures your compliance with legal obligation
- It underpins your moral duty of care
- It makes financial and good business sense
It’s not always clear to employers how to implement a mental health strategy. To mark mental health week (14-18 May), we have provided our expert insights into the steps you can take to invest and improve the mental health of your staff.
A practical approach to educating and improving mental health
There are plenty of practical ways that you can help improve your employees’ mental health by encouraging healthier habits, such as:
- Talking to their line manager
- Access to mental health first aiders/champions
- Access to an employee assistance programme or an external resource
- Keeping active, use the stairs or create steps competitions for the office(s)
- Access to bike to work scheme, walks to work or a lunchtime walk
- Access to a gym or gym membership
- Offering free fruit
- Promoting discounts for healthy restaurants
- Providing lunch and learn sessions around nutrition
- Promoting ‘dry January’
- Providing lunch and learn sessions on alcohol abuse and the effects
- Providing re-usable water bottles
- Promoting a loneliness campaign to encourage volunteering, connecting and networking with a new person at work once a week, using the communal areas and have no eating at desks
- Providing lunch and learn sessions for self-esteem and confidence
- Promoting an awareness of the impact of unhealthy sleep patterns
- Providing options for flexible working and access to sleep training
However, if you’re looking to implement a more formal strategy in your business, then it’s worth taking a look at the Business In The Community (BITC) mental health toolkit. It can help you take positive actions to build a culture that champions good mental health and provides a greater understanding for how to help those who need more support – all within six months.
There are eight steps which we’ve broken down for you below.
Your six month action plan to support the mental health of your employees
Step 1: Make a commitment (Month 1)
- Get a clear commitment from senior level to promote good mental health.
- Make your commitment visible to your employees, clients and competitors by signing ‘Time to Change Employers Pledge’.
- Appoint a mental health advocate at a senior level who will be supported by a working group.
Step 2: Build your approach (Month 2)
- Agree to the implementation of the mental wellbeing policy across all workplace policies.
- Issue an employee mental wellbeing survey to be able to measure and understand the costs to your business and your business needs.
Step 3: Positive culture (Month 3)
- Communicate your approach to wellbeing via posters, intranet, emails and meetings.
- Promote your Time to Change pledge.
- Appoint mental wellbeing champions in each office (maintain this on an ongoing basis).
Step 4: Support and training (Month 3-4)
- Appoint mental health first aiders (as part of your working group).
- Appoint mental health champions to support the first aiders.
- All line managers to receive half-day training (maintain this on an ongoing basis).
- Build mental health awareness into your induction programmes and into performance reviews and 1-2-1s.
- Send out an e-learning module to all employees to complete.
- Launch a mental health online platform, hosting stories, guidance, tips and support.
Step 5: Managing mental health (Month 5)
- Ensure that mental health is discussed openly in team and company meetings.
- Incorporate walking routes on the mental health platform to encourage an active lifestyle.
- Provide lunch and learn sessions to cover topics such as mindfulness, nutrition, money matters & self-harm etc.
Step 6: Providing the right support (Month 6)
- Provide ongoing support to managers around sensitive conversations, linking into the mental health working group.
- Advertise the employee assistance programme via posters, email, intranet, or on wage slips – and do this regularly.
- Look to have an external independent occupational health professional.
- Be prepared to be able to make adjustments to work patterns if anyone is experiencing difficulties.
Step 7: Helping people recover (Month 6)
- Promote and support a healthy lifestyle.
- Ensure employees are supported to make a speedy return to work through regular contact by their manager.
- Assign employees a mental health first aider, if required, or someone they feel comfortable talking to.
Step 8: Going further (Month 6)
- Plan activity around national mental health days – organised by the working group.
- Issue an employee mental health survey every 6-12months so you can constantly adjust the needs.
Employees are critical to the success of any organisation, so it is worthwhile taking the time to put in place the strategy and procedures to protect your employees, you and your business.
For more information and guidance on how to address mental health in your business, or for access to mental health training, speak to our experts on 0345 040 0002 or visit our risk management page.