By CODO Christus
In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environments, prioritising mental health is crucial for the well-being and productivity of employees. Promoting mental health at work not only benefits workers but also contributes to a positive and thriving workplace culture. Employers have a responsibility to create a supportive environment that prioritises mental health. Here are five strategies to help make mental health a top priority at work:
Encourage open and honest communication about mental health by creating a safe space for employees to express their concerns. Develop channels for employees to seek support and provide anonymous feedback. By fostering open communication, you can reduce stigma and promote early intervention and support.
For example, an HR department can take mental health seriously by implementing a program called “Mental Health Matters” to encourage open and honest communication about mental health. The HR team can also organise regular training sessions for managers and supervisors to educate them about recognizing signs of distress and creating a non-judgmental environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health challenges.
- Provide Mental Health Resources and Support
Offer access to mental health resources and support services within the workplace. Provide information about available mental health programs, employee assistance programs (EAPs), counselling services, and mental health helplines to help employees build resilience, manage work-related stress, and maintain their mental well-being.
Partner with mental health organisations such as StrongMinds, Sentabale, Dolen Cymru, Inala, and BasicNeed Ghana to provide workshops, webinars, or training sessions on stress management, resilience, and maintaining work-life balance. To ensure employees are aware of these resources, the company can disseminate information through various channels, send regular email updates, display posters in common areas, and hold team meetings to remind employees about the available support options. Confidentiality should be emphasised, highlighting that accessing these resources will not have any negative impact on their job or professional development.
Through these efforts, you promote a workplace culture that values mental health and ensures that employees have access to the necessary resources and support to maintain their well-being.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout and support employees’ mental well-being. At Kabod, we have developed and implemented policies that enable flexible work hours, remote work options, and reasonable workload expectations. You can also encourage your employees to take regular breaks, use their vacation time, and unplug from work when off-duty. By promoting work-life balance, you are creating an environment that values employees personal lives and helps prevent chronic stress and exhaustion.
- Educate and Train Employees
According to an online survey I did, 61.8% of employees working in an organisation are not even aware of the existence of mental health support or resources provided by their current company. You therefore need to organise mental health awareness campaigns and training programs to inform and educate employees about common mental health issues, stress management techniques, and self-care strategies. You should also consider incorporating mental health topics into regular team meetings or wellness programs. By enhancing employees knowledge and skills, you empower them to prioritise their mental health and support their colleagues.
For example as an HR professional you can organise mental health awareness campaigns and also conduct lunchtime workshops during Mental Health Awareness Month (May), educating employees about common mental health issues, stress management techniques, and self-care strategies. Mental health topics can be integrated into regular team meetings and wellness programs, promoting open dialogue and sharing of resources.
- Lead by Example
Leaders and managers play a pivotal role in making mental health a top priority. Lead by example by openly discussing mental health and modelling healthy work habits. Take care of your own mental well-being, and prioritise self-care. Recognize and appreciate employees’ efforts, and create a positive work environment that fosters psychological safety and inclusivity. By doing so you send a powerful message to employees that their well-being matters.
According to a survey I have done on the 11th July 2023, 72.7% of employees in ghana said that CEOs don’t discuss mental health during company meetings or share personal experience and 56.6% said that they are comfortable to discuss mental health concerns in the workplace as a result of the CEO’s sharing their own experience.
Therefore, CEOs and other executives must openly discuss mental health with their staff and also share personal experiences and emphasise on the need for self-care because it’s very important.
Prioritising mental health in the workplace is not only a moral responsibility but also a strategic approach to enhancing employee well-being and organisational productivity. By fostering open communication, providing mental health resources, promoting work-life balance, educating employees, and leading by example, employers can create a culture that supports and values mental health. By implementing these strategies, organisations can make mental health a top priority and contribute to a healthier, happier, and more productive workforce.