There are so many people who are currently experiencing mental illness in the workplace.  People in the workforce are increasingly showing the initial signs of mental illness such as fatigue, worry, insomnia and the like…

Depression and Anxiety are two of the most prevalent long-term illness that people experience.  This not only costs over $12 billion per year, it reduces organisational productivity, increases absenteeism and staff are just not able to work at their peak performance, which directly increases the workload and stress of others.

Organisations can do something about mental health in the workplace, which will increase productivity, decrease ongoing costs, and increase employee engagement.  When people are empowered and engaged, they want to work to achieve the organisational goals.   It is known that people are often stigmatised because of their mental illness, and the lack of understanding often marginalises people from the workforce.  However, mental illness is not only treatable but can be preventable.

For many years, we have talked about some of things that can assist people to increase their wellbeing.  Are these strategies alive in your work place?

  • Values is one of the major things we need to keep alive. People share organisational values and need to see them working throughout all areas of the organisation.
  • Transparency and communication instils trust and decreases assumptions and fear. Isn’t it best to tell it like it is, rather than staff filling in the blanks?
  • Increase employee control and greater flexibility in their workplace. People still need to feel they are in control of their work and have a say on how it is done.
  • Engage people in a variety of work. This strengthens relationships, increases job security, and offers something different for people.
  • Organisational change needs to be undertaken in a humanistic way. You can increase job satisfaction and mood if you include your staff in the planning process and/or changes.
  • There are many workplaces that are exposed to traumatic events. Vicarious trauma cannot go understated. Active supervision and sincerely caring and taking notice of co-workers and staff is required. Depression and post-traumatic stress disorder may go unnoticed by co-workers.
  • Offer training around mental health awareness and education, teach some relaxation skills.
  • Offer employment assistance programs where people can go and ask for assistance or help if needed. Life experiences can exacerbate work stress, which can lead to ongoing absences in the workplace.
  • Don’t forget rewards and recognition of people doing a great job. Remember to catch people doing a good job and share that with them. This strengthens the organisational culture, and connects positively with employee expectations.
  • Poor leadership and interpersonal relations are the most frequent workplace problems and are seen by staff feeling stressed, and experiencing workplace bullying. Organisations often train in workplace bullying but most times, it isn’t the clear bullying that creates the most problems, it is the ongoing subtle behaviour that staff don’t feel quite comfortable in bringing to the organisations attention. Protective effects against mental health difficulties can be strengthened by offering social support in the workplace, and making it everyone’s business to make people accountable to upholding and behaving within organisational values.
  • If there is poor leadership, then leadership training will have an influence on staff at risk of mental illness. There is strong research that suggests that an inspiring, motivated and caring leadership style has been associated with enhanced mental wellbeing.
  • A safe workplace, both physically and psychologically, is always an important commitment, and must be displayed at all levels of the organisation. The work safe value must be embedded in your culture.
  • Caring about staff is about ensuring they have the opportunity for a work/life balance, without the fear that time away from work will impact their productivity.

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