Prioritising mental health: a call to action for employers

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From May 13th to May 19th, 2024 we’ll be celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week.

It’s the perfect time to remember the key role employers play in prioritising mental health in the workplace and to remind employees about support available to them.

Debra Clark, head of wellbeing at health and wellbeing intermediary Towergate Health & Protection says: “Wellbeing is supported by four pillars: mental, financial, physical, and social. They are all intrinsically linked and if an employee is experiencing challenges with one aspect, it is likely to impact more areas of their overall wellbeing. Some say that mental health underpins everything to do with a person’s health and wellbeing and, therefore, any mental health issue will impact an employee in their workplace as well as their home life.”

Support options: from prevention to intervention

She adds: “Employee benefits offer so much support for mental health, from prevention to support for serious issues. If the company has a benefits programme – and please remember the added-value services and not just the core benefits – then Mental Health Awareness Week provides a good opportunity to remind staff what is available to them and how to access it.” 

If a company currently lacks employee benefits that include mental health support, now presents an opportune moment to contemplate their introduction.

Options like an employee assistance program (EAP), group life assurance, or a cash plan may prove more affordable than anticipated, yet offer valuable mental health support.

Alternatively, if budget constraints prevent the provision of such benefits, HR professionals can effectively communicate and direct employees to specialised charities or local support groups, such as Mind or the Mental Health Foundation.

The critical role of line managers: building a supportive culture

Regardless of circumstances, it’s advisable for all businesses to recognise the role line managers can play.

Clark comments: “Line managers are critical when it comes to an employee’s wellbeing at work: they often know their people best and can spot subtle changes in behaviour that might indicate they need support. So managers are in a good position to really help their team members be the best versions of themselves and therefore produce their best work.”

We do also however need to be mindful of over-burdening managers and need to ensure they have adequate time to manage their people as well as their tasks.

As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches, it serves as a poignant reminder for employers to prioritise mental wellbeing in the workplace. By fostering a supportive environment and providing access to resources, businesses can empower their employees to thrive both personally and professionally.

Don’t forget that you can download useful shareable resources from the Mental Health Foundation’s website here, including posters and social media assets, as well as details about their Strava running challenge and ways to organise a Wear it Green Day. We’re intrigued…

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