Destigmatizing Mental Health at Work
The WHO estimated that between 2012 and 2030, companies in India will lose 1.03 trillion USD due to mental health issues. This number has probably risen as a result of the pandemic. Lack of socializing, working remotely, and being confined to our homes has made mental health more important than ever before.
However, are we ready to talk about it? What are organizations doing about employee mental health? Are managers certain they can navigate their employees through mental health issues? The Roundglass Wellbeing at Work Survey 2019-20 suggests otherwise.
What can managers do to help?
A simple two-step approach of encouraging employees to take care of their mental wellbeing, and extending support can help immensely. Wellbeing programs can equip employees with skills that help manage stress levels. Here are some coping skills you can promote at your organization.
Saying “No” to taking on too much may be necessary for overworked employees, but it’s often not exercised. Managers should discuss with their teams and assign work in a way that the team has enough work to do based on their ability, without being overburdened. Managers should also encourage employees to finish the tasks assigned to them before offering to help their colleagues.
Building healthy habits
Stress can easily disrupt a healthy routine and can lead to temptations like stress eating, little to no physical activity, lack of a routine and increased chances of substance abuse. These habits will only exacerbate the harmful effects of stress. Encourage your employees to choose healthier responses to stress. For instance, they can take a walk break instead of a smoke break while working on a stressful project, or keep healthy snacks on hand to avoid stress eating.
Managing difficult emotions
Bottling up emotions can backfire as they are bound to erupt at some point. Difficult emotions can create blind spots. This can prevent an individual from seeing all the opportunities, rewards, and support they already have, making matters worse. It is important to guide employees to be aware of their emotions and equip them with coping skills. This will ensure a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace.
Creating an environment that encourages employees to ask for help, when in need, is very important. Managers should avoid giving derogatory remarks about their mental resilience and capacity to handle stress, difficult projects, and situations.
Don’t pretend to understand all about mental health
It is very common to make assumptions on someone’s poor performance or behaviour. Don’t assume they are not dedicated, lazy, or rude. Simply pointing out concerns to respective employees can help them understand that you are not judging, shaming, humiliating, or firing them, but that you’re here to help them. This will encourage honesty, and allow the employee to share what they are going through with their managers.