Rethinking Mental Health in the Workplace: 7 Strategies for Employers

3 minutes

Promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace is a crucial responsibility for managers and senior employees.

It’s estimated by the Mental Health Policy Commission that mental health problems cost the UK economy approximately £105 billion per year in lost productivity, healthcare costs, and other associated expenses.

While the discussion around mental health can often feel polarising, it is important to delve into new and niche strategies that go beyond the basics.

This article offers seven innovative approaches to creating a mentally healthy and supportive work environment.

  1. Championing mental health Initiatives

As a manager or senior employee, you can take the lead in championing mental health initiatives within your organisation. By actively advocating for mental health, you can create awareness and encourage others to prioritise well-being.

This can include organising events such as mental health conferences or inviting guest speakers to share cutting-edge research and insights into mental health topics. By bringing forward innovative ideas and fostering discussions, you can drive change and encourage a culture that values mental well-being.

  1. Integrate mental health into performance management

Performance management systems often focus solely on productivity and results, neglecting the impact of mental health on employees' performance. As a manager or senior employee, you can integrate mental health considerations into performance evaluations and goal setting.

This approach acknowledges the importance of mental well-being and encourages open discussions about work-related stressors and potential barriers to success. By prioritising mental health in performance management, you can support employees in achieving their full potential while ensuring their well-being is a central focus.

  1. Customised mental health support

While employee assistance programs and mental health hotlines are valuable resources, they may not address the unique needs of every individual. Consider implementing customised mental health support options that align with the diverse requirements of your workforce.

For example, offering access to alternative therapies like art or music therapy, providing flexible work arrangements, or creating designated quiet spaces can all contribute to a holistic and personalised approach to mental health support. By tailoring resources and support to individual needs, you can create an inclusive and effective support system.

  1. Psychological safety and inclusive leadership

Psychological safety, the belief that one can speak up and express themselves without fear of negative consequences, is essential for promoting mental well-being in the workplace. Managers and senior employees should cultivate an environment of trust, empathy, and respect, where diverse perspectives are welcomed.

Implement inclusive leadership practices that encourage participation, active listening, and collaboration, which can contribute to a culture of psychological safety and support. By fostering a safe and inclusive environment, you empower employees to be their authentic selves and create a sense of belonging.

  1. Advanced mental health training for employees

While many organisations offer basic mental health awareness training, consider providing advanced training sessions that delve deeper into specific topics. These sessions can cover areas such as resilience-building, emotional intelligence, managing workplace conflicts, and fostering mental well-being during times of organisational change.

By offering advanced training opportunities, you empower employees to develop their knowledge and skills, equipping them to proactively manage their mental health and support their colleagues. Advanced training also demonstrates your commitment to ongoing development and growth within your organisation.

  1. Encouraging peer-led mental health initiatives

Employees often find it easier to relate to their peers' experiences and challenges. Encourage the formation of employee-led mental health initiatives, such as support groups, buddy systems, or mentoring programmes. These initiatives allow employees to connect with others who may have similar experiences and provide an additional layer of support and understanding within the organisation. Peer-led initiatives can create a sense of community and foster a supportive culture where individuals feel comfortable discussing mental health topics.

  1. Collaboration with mental health organisations

Forge partnerships with external mental health organisations and experts to leverage their expertise and resources. This collaboration can involve joint initiatives, guest speakers, or access to specialised mental health services.