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Why Mental Health Support Shouldn't Be Seen as an Employee Benefit

Put quite simply employees’ Mental Health improves when employers show they care. Mental Health support should be part of everyday life, and not seen as an employee benefit.

Investing in mental health support for your staff will not only improve employee wellbeing, productivity, motivation and reduce absence, but may also be the difference between keeping or losing your staff.

Unfortunately, there can still be an ongoing stigma around mental health issues and asking for help, particularly in the workplace. Employees might worry that they could be seen as "less able" to do their jobs, or that their job might be at risk if they opened-up. This could contribute to further feelings of anxiety and depression.

Coming out of the Pandemic employers better understand their responsibility to support the wellbeing of employees, especially if they want to retain their top talent.

What are the benefits of supporting employee mental health?

In a recent survey by Mercer, 50% of employees rated mental health support as extremely or very important, and 42% of employees with access to mental health services said they were more likely to stay in their job than if they didn't have them.

Mental health support was put to its true test during the Pandemic, and the report found that 77% of employees who reported receiving good or very good support during this time felt energised at work!

The same survey also found that 44% of employees, who didn't have access to mental health support, felt unsupported by their employer. And it is well known that employees who do not feel supported are often less motivated, less productive, and more likely to look for an employer that values them.

What can I do to support my employee’s mental health?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Employee Assistance Programmes can be great, but they don’t always meet the individual needs of the people who need it most. All companies, large or small, can take steps to make a significant difference to their employees.

The Stevenson Farmer/Review Thriving at Work recommended that that companies, however small should adopt the following standards:

1. Develop mental health awareness among employees.

2. Encourage open conversations about mental health and the support available when employees are struggling.

3. Provide your employees with good working conditions.

4. Promote effective people management.

5. Routinely monitor employee mental health and wellbeing.

How do I develop a Mental Health at Work Policy?

Firstly, it starts with your employees and finding out what they want and need. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Employee Assistance Programmes are great, but they don’t provide the person-centred support required for Mental Health. So, start by finding out the breadth of support wanted by your employees. Create open, safe, and honest communication channels, this could be in the form of face-to-face chats or through an anonymous survey. If you’re using a survey, make sure there’s a free text field for employees to add their own views.

Secondly, consider individual and group training. For instance, you could implement Mental Health First Aiders, so employees have a dedicated person to approach if they feel they need someone to talk to. Or group training such as emotional wellbeing, mindfulness or mental health awareness could help people open-up about their own experience as well as learn potential warning signs that a colleague is struggling.

Other activities you could think about are:

  • Blocking out break times on calendars

  • Meet free Monday

  • Walking meetings

  • Morning meditation sessions via zoom

  • Lunchtime mindfulness sessions

  • A quiet sensory room where people can go to take a break

  • Peer support groups that meet weekly

The possibilities are endless and don't need to be grand, expensive gestures. Often, the smallest changes have the most impact.

Where can I get help to support the mental health of employees?

We fully understand it’s not always easy to broach the subject of poor mental health in the workplace. The taboo of mental health is slowly lifting, and we now talk more frequently about stress levels, anxiety, and depression, but not everyone is always fully aware of the symptoms, understandably feel nervous about starting conversations about mental health.

Here at Supportive Solutions, we can help you to develop a greater understanding and fully support your employee’s mental health. We can help with:

  • Mental Health First Aid

  • Mental Health Awareness

  • Post Incident Stress Debrief

  • Emotional Intelligence

  • Mindfulness

  • Conflict Management

  • Stress Management and Psychological First Aid

  • Coaching and Mentoring

  • Understanding and Developing Resilience

Our trainers are experienced in tackling ‘delicate subjects’ and providing practical support.

Please feel free to contact us to find out more.


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