Workplace Mental Health

How We Can Improve Men’s Mental Health in the Workplace

Shawmind is on a mission to improve the mental health of young people across the UK. This Men’s Mental Health Week, we want to highlight the importance of men’s mental health at work.  

1 in 8 men in England will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lives. Many men struggle to open up to their peers about their mental health struggles. 

If you’re an employer and are interested in providing better mental health support in your workplace, consider our workplace mental health training. If you want to learn how to improve men’s mental health in the workplace, read on.  

What are some mental health issues that can affect men at work? 

Men can experience a range of mental issues in the workplace. Some of these can be due to personal circumstances, while some can relate to circumstances in the workplace. Some of these mental health issues include: 

  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Work-related stress 
  • Burnout 
  • Substance abuse 
  • Imposter syndrome 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) 
  • Anger management issues 
  • Sleep disorders 
  • Social isolation and loneliness 
  • Low self-esteem 
  • Relationship difficulties 
  • Emotional exhaustion 
  • Chronic fatigue 
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Feelings of inadequacy 
  • Mood swings 
  • Irritability 

These feelings can be due to social pressure on men to earn more, and with the rising economic pressures in the UK, these issues could rise significantly. It is our aim to raise awareness so workplaces are well equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to provide effective mental health support for men in the workplace.  

How do you tell if a male employee is struggling mentally? 

It is commonly known that men often withhold their feelings and struggle to open up about their mental health. This can make it particularly difficult to identify which men in the workplace are struggling with mental health problems. Here are some indicators that may suggest a male employee is experiencing poor mental health: 

  • Noticeable changes in behaviour, such as increased irritability, mood swings, or withdrawal from social interactions. 
  • Decreased productivity or performance issues that are inconsistent with their usual work standards. 
  • Frequent absences or tardiness without valid explanations. 
  • Expressing feelings of fatigue, exhaustion, or lack of motivation. 
  • Increased reliance on substances like alcohol or drugs. 
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions. 
  • Noticeable changes in appearance or personal hygiene. 
  • Social isolation and a reluctance to engage in workplace activities. 
  • Expressing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or worthlessness. 
  • Sudden weight loss or gain. 
  • Increased instances of unexplained physical complaints, such as headaches or stomach aches. 

 

Mental health training and education for managers and leaders 

It’s important to approach these observations with empathy and sensitivity. If you suspect a male employee may be struggling, a mental-health trained member of staff should approach the individual on a 1-1 basis, and support should be given if possible. Remember, an employee cannot be forced to disclose their mental health to the organisation, so if the person is unwilling to open up, don’t force the issue. 

If you want to improve mental health in the workplace, it is important to have a mental health trained staff member on site. Check out our workplace mental health training courses. 

Create a supportive workplace environment 

Workplaces should make a conscious effort to create an inclusive environment and tackle the mental health stigma. It is important to encourage open communication and for staff members to support each other and look out for each other’s mental wellbeing.  

These positive workplace relationships can be developed through fun workplace do’s and activities that foster and develop friendships, so men feel more comfortable opening up to their peers.  

Employees should also undergo workplace mental health awareness courses to understand signs of poor mental health in themselves and their colleagues, and know the workplace’s roadmap of who to share their concerns with if they are worried about their own or a colleague’s wellbeing.  

Senior team should lead by example  

When it comes to male mental health, destigmatising is key. Men may often feel weak if they open up about their mental health, however, if they see other men doing it, our experience suggests that they are then more likely to confide in someone about their own mental health struggles. 

This is why it is important for leaders and managers to openly prioritise mental health and well-being, demonstrating that it is valued within the organisation. This encourages employees to follow suit and take their mental health seriously. In fact, mental wellbeing should be baked into the organisation’s strategy, so that it flows into everything the organisation does. 

Offer flexible working arrangements 

Since its rise in popularity due to the pandemic, it has been reported that hybrid working improved the mental health of some employees. Not only is this beneficial to employees, who get to stay at home with their families, exercise, practice self-care and get efficient sleep, it also benefits companies due to increased productivity as mental wellbeing increases. 

Encourage a good work-life balance  

A toxic attitude to work-life balance can severely negatively impact the mental health of employees. Male employees are particularly susceptible to being overworked due to social attitudes towards male work ethic and the pressures of men to be successful breadwinners, which can lead to intense stress. 

It is essential for companies to promote a healthy work life balance and ensure employees aren’t working too much. It is important to foster positive attitudes towards hobbies and personal commitments, so employees can look after their mental health.  

Be inclusive and reject toxic masculinity  

It is important for companies to recognise that men come in different shapes and sizes, with varying interests and hobbies! Narrow attitudes towards men can often constrict their personality and can lead to mental ill health conditions. 

Part of men’s mental health week is to raise awareness around toxic standards of masculinity and how this can impact the mental health of men. Here are some examples of toxic masculinity in the workplace that can negatively impact men: 

  • Suppression of emotions 
  • Hyper-competitiveness 
  • Male “banter” which can border on bullying 
  • Stigmatisation of seeking help 
  • Workaholic culture 
  • Narrow definitions of success 
  • Dismissal of work-life balance 
  • Macho culture 
  • Lack of support for work-family integration 
  • Sexual / gender, racial, religious, intellectual, socio-economic or cultural discrimination 
  • Strong drinking culture / substance abuse 

Workplaces should tackle aspects of toxic masculinity and ensure that all men feel included in the workplace. If a guy doesn’t want to go for a beer after work, or prioritises his family commitments over staying late, he should not feel ashamed or demasculinised.  

It is important to consider all aspects of masculinity and ensure everyone feels included and valued.  

Provide male mental health resources  

Employers can consistently forward male mental health resources to all employees that may be educational and informative, and useful to break down stigma.  These can help improve male mental health and wellbeing at work and make men feel that their mental wellbeing is valued in the workplace. 

Ensuring the conversation around mental health is consistent and ongoing fosters an environment that is mental health positive, which allows men to feel more comfortable to speak about their mental health issues.  

Recognise their achievements and efforts  

Everyone likes to feel valued in the workplace. We encourage workplaces to celebrate employee’s accomplishments and acknowledge their efforts to promote a positive work atmosphere. Recognising their value and contributions can boost morale and well-being. 

 

If you want to support mental health across the UK, please donate. If you want to improve mental health in your workplace, consider our workplace mental health training courses.  

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Mental health rights in the workplace: Understanding employer obligations and employee protections

Poor mental health in the workplace can negatively impact employee productivity and the working environment. 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience mental health issues, so it is important that employees and employers alike understand how to deal with mental health in the workplace.

The stigma around mental health means it can be difficult for people to talk about mental health in the workplace. Shawmind is a mental health charity aiming to destigmatise mental illness by providing education on mental health and how to maintain a good mental wellbeing.

If you’re an employee or employer interested in understanding mental health rights and how to support mental health in the workplace, this article is a primer.

What are employer obligations towards mental health in the workplace?

In 2017, the UK Prime Minister commissioned the ‘Thriving at Work’ report. This report established a framework or ‘Core Standards’ to be followed by employers operating companies and organisations of all sizes. These standards are as follows:

  • Craft and execute a comprehensive mental health strategy in the workplace that prioritises the emotional wellbeing of all staff members. The strategy must outline the resources available to those who require assistance.
  • Elevate mental health consciousness among employees by making educational materials, resources, and support easily accessible.
  • Foster open discussions about mental health and the resources available when employees are facing challenges, both during the hiring process and at regular intervals throughout their employment. Offer appropriate accommodations to employees who need them to ensure a supportive work environment.
  • Provide employees with a positive work environment and work-life balance, and offer opportunities for growth and development.
  • Encourage positive people management to ensure all employees have regular check-ins with their line manager, supervisor, or organisational leader about their mental health and wellbeing. Provide training and support for line managers and supervisors in effective management practices.
  • Continuously assess employee mental health and wellbeing by analysing available data, engaging in conversations with employees, and identifying risk factors.

What mental health rights do employees have?

Employers have a duty of care towards their employees. This means that they should promote and support the overall physical health and mental wellbeing of their employees.

If you’re an employee experiencing mental health problems, it is important to speak to your employer about what they can do to accommodate your needs. Many employers offer mental health days. This means you can take a day off from work to recuperate and look after yourself. You are not required to disclose to your employer that you suffer with a mental health condition, but having an honest, confidential discussion with them at an appropriate time can go a long way to helping them to help you.

In the UK, under the disabilities act, employees have an equal right to take days off for mental health as for physical health. Under this act, employers must accommodate any mental health conditions and keep any disclosed medical history confidential.

Other legislation on this topic that you should consult:

  • The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HASWA).
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1995 & 2005 (DDA).
  • Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA).
  • Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations (1999).
  • Equality Act 2010

Why should employers focus on mental health in the workplace?

Save money

Mental health aid in the workplace can actually save the organisation money. Estimates show that mental health costs the UK employers £45 billion a year. In the workplace, untreated mental health can result in decreased productivity, absenteeism, high staff turnover and presenteeism.

Untreated mental health can also lead to more severe issues, like anxiety, physical illnesses from stress, fatigue and more, which in turn can lead to severe consequences, including suicide.

However, research shows it pays to invest in employee mental health. For every £1 spent on things like Workplace Mental Health Training, employers save an average of £5.

Reduction in employee turnover

Research shows that 42% of UK businesses have lost an employee due to a lack of workplace care for mental health. Talent retention is one of the most important aspects for a successfully functioning organisation.

Data shows that a positive mental health environment in the workplace can help employers keep 42% of staff and 25% of critical staff. Mental health incentives can also be attractive when trying to recruit top talent.

Healthier work environment

We spend a large portion of our lives at work, it should be a healthy environment that we enjoy being in. Having mental health support can make employees feel more valued and appreciated.

What can employers do to support mental health in the workplace?

Employers are responsible for the wellbeing and welfare of their employees. It is important to try and detect mental health issues in the workplace early. Not everyone is comfortable making the initial steps to reach out for help, so leaders should be vigilant.

As an employer, if you detect any of the following signs in your employees, it is important to try and have a conversation with your employee to see what support you can provide. Similarly, if you detect signs of any of the following as an employee, reach out to your employer to find out about what they can do to help:

  • Retreat from social events
  • Lack of enthusiasm for work or daily routines
  • Irrational fears, distrust, or worry
  • Substance abuse/misuse
  • Diminished involvement
  • Rise in absences
  • Atypical conduct
  • Alterations in sleep or dietary habits
  • Variations in work routines
  • Decline in efficiency

Many organisations have Employee Assistance Programmes (EAP) that include mental health options, but studies show that the average uptake of EAPs is around 33%. Employers should regularly and visibly communicate the EAP access methods and benefits to staff.

Employers can play a crucial role in supporting the mental wellbeing of their employees through various means. As an employer, here are a few things you can do to support mental health in the workplace:

  • Encouraging open and supportive communication creating a positive work atmosphere.
  • Providing flexible work arrangements, including remote work or flexible working hours, to promote work-life balance.
  • Providing mental health training and resources to managers and employees to raise awareness and understanding.
  • Taking proactive measures to prevent workplace stress and burnout by managing workload and promoting a healthy work environment.
  • Creating a safe, inclusive and supportive work environment that prioritises mental health and wellbeing.

If you’re an employer looking to establish mental health measures in the workplace, check our mental health training courses. If you want to build a mental-health positive organisation, consider donating to Shawmind to help Headucate young people about mental health.

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How to Improve Mental Health in The Workplace

As a leader in your organisation, you’re likely invested in the well-being of your employees. 

The workplace, where many people spend the majority of their time each week, is frequently the most structured and controlled environment in their lives, and it is often their primary source of social and emotional support. 

As a result, the workplace is an important setting for understanding and promoting mental health. Here are 4 ways to improve mental health in the workplace: 

 

1. Raise awareness around mental health 

In many UK workplaces, discussing mental health is filled with stigma. Employees are still too hesitant to discuss any mental health issues with their managers.  

Break down this stigma by encouraging workplace discussions about mental health and well-being. You could accomplish this by: 

  • Have some staff trained as mental health first aiders 
  • Using internal communication channels to raise awareness, such as blog posts or staff newsletters 
  • Encourage people at all levels to talk openly about their mental health if they feel comfortable doing so. 

Raising mental health awareness in this way sends a clear message to employees that help is available if they are struggling. 

 

2. Keep the conversation going 

We all have mental health and wellbeing, so we need to keep talking about it. This involves encouraging your employees to continue the mental health conversation. 

Set the example by scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with members of your team to discuss their mental health. 

Outside of meetings, make it a habit to check in on your employees and ask how they are. To be more effective, ask them twice. According to Time to Change research, 75% of people will say they’re fine even if they’re not. Simply asking twice may reveal an issue that you were previously unaware of. 

By continuing this conversation, you will encourage employees to think more about their own or their colleagues’ mental health, as well as the factors that influence it. 

 

3. Prioritise work-life balance 

With the significant shift to home working, the boundaries between work and home life have become increasingly blurred. This must be closely monitored, as a lack of work-life balance leads to stressed and burned-out employees. 

So, take proactive steps to maintain your employees’ work/life balance. You could encourage your employees to work reasonable hours, take full lunch breaks, and avoid working on weekends. 

It is also critical that you establish realistic work demands so that your employees do not have extra work to do after hours. 

 

4. Implement healthy workplace practices 

Implement some simple healthy workplace practises to improve your team’s mental health. 

Office workers should be encouraged to take frequent breaks from long periods of sitting, as this has been shown to improve mood and energy levels. 

You could also encourage exercise and regular social events to improve your employees’ physical and mental health. 

Implementing practises like these demonstrates your commitment to your employees’ well-being. 

 

Do you want to improve mental health awareness and staff emotional wellbeing in your workplace? 

We have a range of mental health training options to support individuals and organisations, including both online and in-person courses to suit your requirements.   

2023 can be the year you train your staff and upgrade the emotional well-being of your teams and the support provided to them, thus increasing moral, productivity and reducing absence and sick days. 

Remember, when you hire Shawmind as your training provider (rather than a private company) we use the funding to provide mental health training for school children and teachers FREE OF CHARGE. 

The well-being of your organisation has a ripple effect on mental wellness within communities around the UK. 

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What are mental health days and when should you take one?

Taking time off work to care for your physical health is a standard practise but doing the same for your mental health can feel like more of a grey area.

Even though many employers have rules on personal or mental health days, it can feel challenging to request time off when all you need is a mental break. You may end up forcing yourself to go even though you’re uncomfortable or feel bad about using one of your few leave days. However, when you’re overly worried, stressed or anxious, both you and your job suffer, sometimes resulting in problems that might harm both your performance and your co-workers. Maintaining your general health and well-being, both within and outside of the office, requires knowing when to take a mental health day for yourself.

When to take a mental health day

It might be all too simple to convince yourself that experiencing mental health issues doesn’t warrant time off from work. Why stay off work if you are physically capable of doing so and being paid?

But keep in mind that your entire wellbeing depends just as much on your mental health as it does on your physical health. Your mind needs time to relax and heal, just like any illness or physical suffering does.

Consider taking the day off if you wake up feeling particularly agitated, depressed, or nervous to the point that it interferes with your ability to operate. Of course, sometimes you just feel unexplainably “off.” It’s OK to take the day to yourself then, too. Use your personal judgement and listen to your mind and body. Everyone needs a mental health day from time to time.

How to tell your manager you want a mental health day

For many people, their job openly accepts mental health days and, in this case, you can be open and honest with your manager. Unfortunately, the debate over mental health days is still prevalent in many companies. Meaning, what you say to your boss is important. Here are some points to consider when talking to your manager about taking a mental health day.

1. Acknowledge that you deserve the day. This will make it easier to communicate your needs to your supervisor and make your intentions clear. There is power in naming your stressors, and you’ll have a concrete idea of what you need to address during your time off.

2. Consider your workplace leave policies. Depending on your workplace, asking for a mental health day can be as simple as requesting a sick day. Familiarise yourself with your rights prior to requesting a mental health day.

3. Share only what you’re comfortable with. If your workplace isn’t as receptive to employees taking time off for mental health, don’t feel the need to over-explain yourself. Simply saying you have to deal with a personal matter should do the trick. However, if you’re comfortable telling your supervisor or HR (Human Resources) department why you’re taking the day off, you can! It helps to plan what you would like to say to your supervisor beforehand, so you are clear about what you are asking. After your request is approved, you can start to think about what you want to accomplish or take care of on your day off. Here’s an example of how to tell your employer you need a mental health day.

Hi [Employer],
I need to take today off for my mental health. Hopefully, then I can be back at 100% for tomorrow
Many Thanks,
[Your Name]

 

4. Remember that your day is for you. Once your request is approved, you can focus on what you need to decompress and take care of yourself. If you need to sit on the couch all day, do it! Getting outside is also a great option if the weather allows but remember that the day is specifically for you to recoup from the stressors of work.

How to spend your mental health day

Just like you’d treat any sick day, do things that make you feel better. Spend your mental health day doing things you know are beneficial to your mental and physical health. If spending the day relaxing on the sofa or going for a walk in the park will help you, do them! But often spending the day doing tasks like laundry, dishes and errands can help clear your mind and reduce the mental load. There is no right or wrong way to spend your mental health day, do what you need to do to feel better.

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Neurodiversity: make it part of your D&I strategy

Shawmind’s Assistant Psychologist, Theo Durner, presented a series on neurodiversity to the team at Julius Bär International during Neurodiversity Awareness Week. The sessions gave a brief insight into ADHD, Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia, ideas on how to manage neurodiverse team members, and how the diversity it presents can potentially be to an organisation’s advantage.

The series aims at getting people thinking differently about neurodiversity, and appreciating that it can present new opportunities and solutions that can be of great benefit to the organisation. As such, it should be included on any organisation’s diversity and inclusion agenda.

A range of additional resources and useful links through which to learn more about neurodiversity and where to go for further help and support are also included in a PDF that accompanies the series.

If you would like more information about this series, or would like to discuss your mental health training requirements, please contact us.

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Why are mental health first aiders important in the workplace?

In the same way you would plan for the risk of physical harm in the workplace, having a colleague with mental health first aid training is a crucial tool for keeping your team’s wellbeing front and centre.

Employees who are in good mental health are more likely to work productively, form strong relationships with their co-workers, show up for work regularly, and be more engaged with the organisation.

Mental health issues are common in the workplace though often not spoken about. Anxiety and depression are the two most common conditions in the workplace, and still today many people are not well informed or knowledgeable about what these are, how they occur, and what can be done about them.

What is mental health first aid?

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised training programme that teaches people how to recognise the signs and symptoms of mental health struggles and provide help on a first aid basis.

Incorporating MHFA training into any organisation or community also helps individuals to talk about mental health more openly, decreasing stigma and fostering a more positive workplace wellbeing culture.

What do mental health first aiders do?

A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for anyone who wants to discuss their mental health. This interaction could range from having an initial conversation through to supporting the person to get appropriate urgent help. As well as in a crisis, Mental Health First Aiders are valuable in providing early intervention help for someone who may be developing a mental health issue. The MHFA trained employee can provide active listening and guidance in a confidential, non-judgemental way and can signpost the person to useful resources available within the organisation and externally.

Mental Health First Aiders are not trained to be counsellors, therapists or psychiatrists, but they can offer initial support through non-judgemental listening and guidance.

Mental Health First Aiders are trained to:

  • Spot the early signs and symptoms of mental ill-health
  • Start a supportive conversation with a colleague who may be experiencing a mental health issue or emotional distress
  • Listen to the person non-judgementally
  • Assess the risk of suicide or self-harm and escalate to the appropriate emergency services, if necessary
  • Encourage the person to access appropriate professional support or self-help strategies.
  • Maintain confidentiality at all times, only disclosing to the person’s line manager or HR with their consent

Why are mental health first aiders important in the workplace?

Having employees educated in mental health first aid ensures that there is always someone in the office who can identify the first signs of a colleague in distress as soon as they appear. This means that someone who is struggling for example with anxiety or stress can get help before problems develop further into things like burnout or depression.

In the workplace, there can be a stigma associated with mental health, which Mental Health First Aiders can assist to eliminate. Staff training in MHFA will demonstrate to anyone who is suffering that your organisation will assist and guide them. It will facilitate communication between your employees and management because they will know that they will be supported rather than belittled or discriminated against.

A healthy workplace starts with healthy employees. One of the most significant expenditures for businesses is lost productivity due to mental illness. Employees and supervisors benefit from having someone educated in MHFA because they will know what to look for and say, making them feel healthier and more supported when it comes to mental health, and most importantly will feel that management really cares.

Unfortunately, one of the most common causes for employees being placed on long-term sick leave is mental illness. Companies can save money and time by having workers who are trained to intervene and provide staff support when problems arise. This is preferable to failing to support colleagues and the problems become so serious that the employee is forced to take time off.

Do you want to book a Mental Health First Aid course?

Our Mental Health First Aid course costs £275 per person– discounts are available for group bookings of 12 people. Contact us for more information, available dates, or to make a booking, or to learn more about other mental health & wellbeing courses we offer .

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Your guide to time off work for mental health

Mental health challenges can feel debilitating and they don’t stop when you enter your workplace (or switch on your laptop) but it can feel like you need to push those aside when you go to work so that you can be productive and earn enough money to live your life.

We know it’s not that simple. Mental health challenges can manifest themselves in many ways including missing deadlines, lacking enthusiasm and having more emotional responses to problems that arise – all of which can lead to problems for you, your team and your employer.

Sometimes, it may seem like the best solution is to take time off to deal with your mental health – but the stigma around mental health as a whole has probably made it hard for you to find the information you need about time off work for mental health.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Can I take time off work for mental health?

Yes. As with physical health problems, you are legally entitled to time off when struggling with mental health. Similarly to physical health problems, you will need to get a doctor’s note if you are off for longer than 1 week due to mental health.

When should I take time off work for mental health?

You should take time off work for mental health if you are experiencing any symptoms of a mental health condition (e.g. anxiety, depression, stress) that will negatively affect your performance at work.

Alternatively, you should take time off work for mental health if you believe that attending work will have a significant and detrimental impact on your long-term mental health.

In some cases, you may only need a single day to allow yourself to rest and recover, or in more severe cases you may need an extended period of leave.

How to talk to employers about mental health

There is no legal requirement for you to disclose any mental health conditions with your employer, however, you may find that sharing your circumstances with your employer (or HR department) enables them to support you better and make adjustments to the work environment.

The stigma around mental health keeps many employees from opening up to employers for fear of dismissal, discrimination, or fewer career opportunities. However, mental health conditions can be classed as a disability and are therefore protected from workplace discrimination by The Equality Act (2010).

How to call in sick with mental health

Due to the stigma that still exists around mental health, many people try to ignore symptoms of poor mental health and carry on working anyway. But would you go to work if you were throwing up? Hopefully not.

The same goes for your mental health – while keeping busy can be helpful at times, your mental health needs rest so it can heal just like your physical health does.

If you need a single day or two to rest, you can simply send a message or make a call as you would with a physical sick day. If you don’t want to disclose the specific issue you’re struggling with, you can send a broad message to your employer to inform them that you’ll be off:

Hi [Employer],

I need to take today off for my mental health. Hopefully, then I can be back at 100% for tomorrow!

Many Thanks,

[Your Name]

If you need more than a week off, you will need a written note from a doctor detailing what condition you are taking time off for and how long it will be until you return. This will need to be sent to your HR department but it would also be advisable to inform your line manager and team members about the duration of your leave.

Can I be fired for taking time off for mental health?

Providing you follow the proper protocols for sick leave within your organisation, provide proof of illness for extended leave, and work with your employer to remain productive within any accommodations made for your mental health, you cannot be fairly dismissed from your role.

Employers may fire you if:

  • You have violated the terms of your employment contract by not following the agreed sick leave procedures
  • You have not provided proof of your mental illness for extended periods of leave
  • You have not successfully worked with any considerations your employer has taken to support your mental health (such as flexible working hours, or remote working)

If you have followed all the requirements and your employer still fires you, you may be able to claim it was an unfair dismissal under the Equality Act (2010), leaving your employer facing hefty fines and lengthy legal procedures.

In reality, most employers are understanding and accommodating to your mental health needs as long as you are open and honest about what you need. Most issues tend to arise when performance and productivity decrease for no clear reason and with no identifiable solution. Avoid this situation by discussing your mental health and any additional requirements with your employer, HR department, or Mental Health First Aider.

Mental health is a vast and complex subject, both employers and employees can benefit from mental health training that will enable them to spot the signs of common mental health conditions, look after mental health, and support those with mental health challenges.

All proceeds from our workplace mental health courses go towards our #Headucation campaign designed to improve mental health support for children. Help yourself, your business, and future generations by registering for our online or tutor-led mental health courses.

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Looking after mental health when working from home – 5 tips anyone can use

In a perfect world, working from home would give us endless opportunities to look after our mental health. But we know that the world isn’t perfect and that not everyone can work flexible hours to suit their ideal schedule and that not everyone feels confident speaking to their employer about mental health.

Over the last 2 years, there has been plenty of advice shared about how to look after your mental health when working from home, but how much have you really been able to implement? We’ve collated the best techniques that anyone can implement, no matter what resources you have or what industry you work in.

1. Set a routine when working from home

Setting a routine for your workday can help you to practice good habits and establish boundaries between work and home life.

For some, your routine may incorporate scheduled exercise, daily walks and time to complete errands around the house alongside your work. For others, it can be as simple has having a clearly defined time to start work and time to finish.

The key to any good WFH routine for your mental health is that it works for you and is something you can stick to long term. If you’re unsure, start with routine that includes minimal tasks and build on it as you get more used to it.

A routine like this can really help your mental health when working from home as it will help you create clear boundaries for yourself, your employer, and members of your household to have set times when work or personal tasks can be completed – leaving you free to fully switch off from work in the evenings and to minimise home distractions during the day.

Struggling to finish on time when working from home? Ask yourself “would I stay to complete this task if I was working in the office?” If not, it’s time to switch off!

Need help getting your routine started? Save ours to your phone!

WFH Routine

2. Spend time outdoors

Whether it’s 5 minutes or 1 hour, time outdoors can significantly benefit your mental health when working from home. Not only can this time outside give us a much-needed break from our work (and the screen you’ve likely been staring at for hours), being outside also triggers several physical responses in our body that are great for our mental health. For example:

  • Green outdoor spaces can improve focus and memory
  • Natural light regulates our circadian rhythm and contributes to better sleep
  • Natural light also stimulates serotonin and Vitamin D – both of which make us feel happier
  • Being outdoors can lower cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure

Much of the time you spend outside will likely be on foot – meaning that you’ll be getting some physical activity in which is also great for mental health.

There are lots of different ways you can spend time outdoors, whether it’s in your garden, on your balcony or in the street outside your home:

  • Go for a walk during your lunch break
  • Simulate your commute by walking before and/or after work every day (also a great way to set clear boundaries in your mind!)
  • Take a 5 minute break outside in between tasks
  • Go outside every time the kettle is boiling

3. Create a dedicated workspace

To look after your mental health when working from home, you need the ability to switch off from work and stop the lines between your work and personal time getting too blurred.

A dedicated workspace for working from home is one of the best things you can do to create clear boundaries for your mind and look after your mental health. Not everyone has the ability to set up an office in another room – but that doesn’t mean you can’t still create a dedicated space where you can focus during the day and “leave” when it’s time to finish.

Try to avoid working from the sofa or your bed – these are spaces where you’d normally relax so reserve them for this purpose only! If you have to work from a room that you’d usually consider a relaxing space, try to set up a desk that is only for work purposes. You could even use a folding table and chair if you don’t have room for a permanent set up.

If you work from your kitchen table or another permanent fixture in your house, make the effort to clear your work equipment away at the end of every day. This will help you avoid the temptation to check your emails or do a quick task out of your normal working hours.

If you’re lucky enough to have a home office, try closing the door when you finished working so that, similarly to those working from kitchen tables, you can’t be tempted to work when you catch a glimpse of your to-do list or computer.

4. Talk to people

Talking is one of the best things you can do for your mental health, even when you’re not working from home.

Regardless of the subject, talking to people helps us feel connected, build relationships and voice our feelings. Working from home can often leave you feeling isolated and lonely which can intensify feelings of anxiety, depression, and low mood.

Talk to colleagues

Even when working remotely, make the effort to talk to your colleagues via voice or video call. You can talk to them about work and personal life – they may even be able to support you with challenges you’re facing if they’re in a similar position.

Read more: What is workplace anxiety?

Talk to your Mental Health First Aider

Your workplace Mental Health First Aider is the best person to go to when you’re feeling low at work. They can provide advice, signpost to professional resources and help you make adjustments at work to accommodate how you’re feeling.

Don’t have a mental health first aider? Get trained in Mental Health First Aid.

Talk to loved ones

Talking to loved ones after work on a regular basis is a great way to unwind and gain perspective. They’ll likely be supportive if you want to share anything that’s bothering you and can help to distract you with stories from their own lives.

5. Stay healthy and hydrated

Keeping your body fed and hydrated will help you stay focused, motivated and mentally positive when working from home. Keep a water bottle at your desk so that you can keep drinking even when engrossed in the busiest tasks and try to keep healthy snacks on hand (e.g. fruit and nuts) for when you don’t feel like you have time for a proper lunch.

If you regularly don’t have the time or inclination to prepare meals during the day, meal prepping in advance can be a great way to ensure you get a balanced and filling meal without spending too long away from your desk.

Working from home has become normal for many of us, yet despite this there are plenty of us who still struggle to look after our mental health in these conditions. You can use these tips when working from home no matter your resources or work schedule.

Want to learn more about mental health to support yourself or others? Check out our online mental health courses – all proceeds go to #Headucation to provide mental health training to teachers!

Read more: 9 realistic ways to cope with workplace anxiety

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What is workplace anxiety?

Many of us are likely to feel anxious or stressed at work occasionally, however, if your anxiety is constant or increasingly frequent you’re likely dealing with some degree of workplace anxiety.

It’s the International Week of Happiness at work from 20th to the 24th September 2021 and we want to make sure all workplaces are equipped to be the happiest they can be by tackling workplace anxiety.

What is workplace anxiety?

Workplace anxiety is different to generalised anxiety disorder as it is specifically related to the work environment. While the anxiety doesn’t have to occur in the workplace, workplace anxiety is caused by workplace triggers (e.g. you may feel workplace anxiety the evening before you go to work).

The causes and level of severity are different for each individual but in the most severe instances, workplace anxiety can be debilitating and stop employees from carrying out their duties.

What causes workplace anxiety?

There are many causes of workplace anxiety and the specifics will always vary by each person however some common causes of workplace anxiety include:

  • Workplace bullying or discrimination
  • Minimal or no support from managers
  • Tough working conditions e.g. unsafe environment or long hours
  • Lack of relationships with colleagues
  • Fear of inadequacy or judgement
  • Tight deadlines / overwhelming workload
  • Lack of control over your work

Many people don’t seek help for anxiety soon enough for fear of judgement or because they feel their problem is not severe enough – it’s important to remember that regardless of the cause, your feelings are valid and just as deserving of support as anyone else’s.

What effect does workplace anxiety have?

Anxiety can be debilitating, but what does that mean for the workplace?

When someone is struggling with anxiety they may be less productive e.g. miss deadlines, produce lower quality work, or make mistakes that can be costly to the business.

Anxiety can also manifest itself physically and cause the employee to take more time off which also has financial and productivity implications for businesses – especially small to medium-sized organisations and teams.

Employees struggling with workplace anxiety for a prolonged time can become withdrawn and irritable – negatively impacting company culture and staff morale.

Many who struggle with anxiety, particularly when caused by a lack of confidence or feelings of inadequacy, may make career decisions based on these feelings and miss out on promotions or change their career path altogether.

How to manage workplace anxiety?

1. Look out for signs of anxiety

Knowing the signs of workplace anxiety can help you spot them in yourself and others so that you can make adjustments to your working life before the anxiety becomes more severe.

2. Undergo training on anxiety

Completing some basic training around anxiety can help you learn why it occurs, how to handle it and how to prevent it. Take a look at our self-paced online Understanding Anxiety course.

3. Implement mental health first aiders

Mental health first aiders (MHFA) are one of the best tools an organisation can use to spot, prevent and support those with workplace anxiety. A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for any employees who want to discuss their mental health.

As well as being trained to talk to employees who reach out, mental health first aiders are also provided with the training to spot when someone in the business may be struggling with their mental health but not voicing it. This enables the first aider to make the first move and provide support to those employees who are struggling.

A mental health first aider can also help business leaders make their organisations more mental health-friendly e.g. identifying when working arrangements may need to change.

We offer a 2-day Mental Health First Aid Course that can be delivered online via Zoom, or face to face either in one of our settings, or your own workplace.

All funds from our Mental Health First Aid training course goes directly to our Headucation campaign – so by training a mental health first aider in your business, you’ll also be supporting children’s mental health for years to come!

4. Learn how to manage workplace anxiety

The more you can educate yourself and others to manage anxiety, the better the whole workplace can become. While dedicated individuals such as mental health first aiders can suggest support options, the decision to take action always lies with the person suffering from anxiety.

Some ways to self-manage anxiety are:

  • Talk to colleagues
  • Build relationships at work
  • Treat mental and physical health the same
  • Keep notes
  • Make changes to accommodate your anxiety
  • Set realistic deadlines
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Practice healthy habits
  • Focus on facts

Read more about ways to deal with workplace anxiety

If you’re an employer, you need to ensure you are taking the appropriate action to support your staff with workplace anxiety. If you’re not sure where to start, get in touch with Shawmind for advice and ideas! Or, take the first step towards a happier workplace by signing up for one of our mental health training courses – all funds go towards Headucation to improve mental health for the next generation.

If you’re an employee, the sooner you can talk to your line manager or employer about your workplace anxiety the better. If you’re not confident yet, let us know who your employer is and we can reach out to them with our mental health training courses or Wellbeing Weather Check offer.

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Why complete a Mental Health first aid course?

A mental health first aider acts as the first point of contact for anyone who want to discuss their mental health. The mental health first aider can provide advice and support in a confidential, non-judgemental way before a professional mental health specialist is contacted.

Mental health is highly important to living a healthy life. It affects our emotional, psychological and social well-being, and is integral to the way we feel, think and act. Understanding of mental health has greatly developed in recent years, however there is still a lot to learn about the problems faced by those suffering with their mental health.

Mental health is just as important as physical health, as such it should be cared for in the same way. With the level of stigma around mental health people can often feel uncomfortable talking about their feelings. Understanding how to effectively support a person struggling with their mental health is an important skill.

Who should become a mental health first aider?

A mental health first aid course is ideal for anyone looking to better understand mental health and how to support those struggling with it. Anyone can take a mental health first aid course, however there are certain professions where it is especially advisable. Understanding how to support those struggling with mental health is important within all professions, especially for those in charge of others.

Mental health in the workplace

Mental health training isn’t only beneficial for employers but can also greatly support employees. Covid has resulted in many struggling to find steady work. A large part of the recruitment process is finding candidates with the right skills for the role. Although role-specific skills are important, employers also look for candidates’ soft skills. The ability to build positive relationships with colleagues and support them in their lives creates a good company culture. Something highly important to companies, especially within a post covid society.

Mental health in education

For Teachers and Careworkers who work around young and vulnerable individuals this training can be especially beneficial. Young and vulnerable people are particularly susceptible to mental health problems, with 1 in 6 school children struggling with their mental health. Completing a mental health first aid course will give you the tools and understanding you need to support individuals with their mental health. While mental health education is compulsory in schools as a result of our initial Headucation campaign, mental health training for teachers isn’t. Teachers and education staff play a large role in the lives of children and, as such, are in the right position to recognise the signs of mental health problems within the children in their care. But how do you recognise these signs?

Why become a mental health first aider?

Negative mental health affects 1 in 4 people. By completing a mental health first aid course you can learn the skills you need to support people with their mental health. As an authority figure in someone’s life, whether that be as a teacher or employer, you are an integral part of their support process. You are not the whole solution, however.

By becoming a mental health first aider you will learn the skills to understand what can affect a person’s mental wellbeing, as well as how to identify signs of various mental health issues. By learning how to confidently reassure and support someone struggling with mental health you will be able to effectively signpost an individual to the appropriate support and resources they need. Although you are not the whole solution, you will be an important part of supporting mental wellbeing.

All proceeds from our mental health training courses will go to our Headucation2025 campaign that aims to train 151,000 teachers in the basics of mental health support. This campaign will provide front line mental health support for nearly 2.5 million school children across the country every year.

We need all the help we can get to provide this crucial training – please support us by donating, booking one of our mental health training courses or buying a product from our store.

 

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