It is highly like that you, or a colleague of yours, have experienced mental ill-health while in the workplace. 1 in 5 Australians experience mental ill-health in any given year.
While factors outside of the workplace may contribute to one’s mental illness, it is often presumed to be the main contributor. However, “unhealthy” work environments, toxic work cultures, and/or workplace incidents can cause stress and contribute to the development of mental illness.
The impacts of mental illness and workplace stress are well-documented and researched. Employees with mental ill-health are more likely to be absent from work and be less productive. Mental ill-health is estimated to cost the economy approximately $60 billion a year.
It is important that managers and employees take appropriate steps to reduce the risk of mental ill-health in the workplace.
What Can Managers Do?
There are many effective ways a manager can support their employees and create a healthy and safe working environment that promotes mental well-being.
- Modelling healthy behaviour: It is important that managers not only promote mental well-being but also practice it. By modelling proper self-care and boundaries, managers can encourage their employees to do the same.
- Regular check-ins: Checking in with direct reports allows managers to identify employees who may be struggling and proactively problem-solve any issues. Initiate these check-ins in a space in which employees feel comfortable to share and be vulnerable.
- Offer flexibility: Managers should be flexible in how they address issues. It is important not to assume what your employees need but instead customise approaches to suit their needs and personal commitments.
- Invest in workplace mental health: Prioritise proactive and preventative workplace mental health training for your employees. This can help educate them on how to identify problems and manage them. Providing your employees access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can help in multiple areas of concern.
What Can Employees Do?
While much of our working environment is out of our control. There are some common strategies employees can utilise to manage mental well-being:
- Limit working extra hours: While working overtime is required from time to time, it can negatively impact your health if it becomes the norm. Discuss your duties with your manager if this has become a problem.
- Establish boundaries: With the increase in working from home amongst employees, it’s easy to feel the pressure to be available 24/7. It is important to create clear boundaries between work and home life. For example, not checking your emails or answering calls after a certain hour.
- Manage expectations: It is important to communicate clearly with your colleagues and set realistic and achievable deadlines for deliverables. When asked to deliver something within a timeline that is unrealistic, it is important to push back where possible to ensure we set limits.
- Plan and take regular leave: To avoid the chronic build-up of stress and eventual burnout, we need to take regular leave in order to replenish. When possible, take time off at regular intervals across the year to relax and unwind so you come back to work feeling reinvigorated.
- Get support when required: Accepting help from trusted friends and family can improve your ability to manage heightened workloads and stress. If available, access your Employee Assistance Program which can help you with strategies and techniques to manage stress.
Our Psych Up! resources in May are exploring the idea, ‘Active Mind, Active Life’. This includes exploring the impact mental health has on your physical health as well as on your performance in your personal life, sport and workplace.
For more information contact us today.