Just as everyone has physical health, everyone also has mental health; it just moves up and down the spectrum from goof mental health to poor mental health. In many cases it is our jobs that can affect our mental health, which is really not surprising when we think how much time we spend at work.
Research shows that 1 in 6 workers are dealing with mental health problems such as depression or stress; mental health problems are extremely common and they are also on the rise. The most common mental health problem is depression and research shows this affects one in ten people while 44% of employers have seen an increase in reports of poor mental health from their employees.
How Can Depression Be Spotted In Your Workplace?
A depressed person could struggle telling you how they feel, but perhaps you have a noticed a real change in their personality or productivity at work? A depressed person will often be less motivated to get work done, and this can depress them further as they are falling behind and letting others down.
What Can You Do In Your Workplace?
It is essential that employers are proactive in managing the mental health of all their employees. A good leader knows that they are only as good as their team and therefore the wellbeing of each worker is fundamental to how the organisation performs as a whole.
Employers need to positively manage and support the wellbeing of employees and encourage employee engagement. Research shows that organisations with high levels of employee engagement benefit from better productivity as well as profitability and stronger staff commitment.
As an employer you should promote wellbeing for all employees, tackle any causes of work-related mental health problems within your workplace and support employees that are experiencing mental health problems either at work or at home.
How Can HR Help With Depression in the Workplace?
We feel that HR has a vital role to play in supporting employees with mental health problems whether they are in work, off work with a mental illness or returning to work after time off from a mental illness. It is essential that HR creates an open dialogue between employees and employers and that this leads to a system of support and understanding between both parties.
It is a good idea to encourage people to talk through an open environment, during these talks it is important that the person is focused on and not the problem. Talk about what support the employee needs and what triggers their mental health issues. While it may be tempting, avoid making assumptions about what their symptoms are and instead ask open questions and listen to the employees’ answers.
During these conversations, confidentiality needs to be respected so do not pass on information if it is unnecessary because this is a major breach in trust and could negatively impact on the employees’ mental health. Also remember that everyone is different and therefore mental health problems affect people differently too so respond flexibly and develop an action plan personalised to the employee.
Personalised Action Plans
By working together with the employee and line manager an action plan can be put into place that will help manage the employees’ mental wellbeing at work. This is an action plan that is personalised to the employee and will involve workplace triggers that contribute to their mental health while developing tailored support to offset these triggers.
The personalised action plan should cover the impact of the employees’ mental health problems on their performance, workplace triggers and early warning signs for the employee and line manager to look out for as well as steps for the line manager and employee to take.
If an employee within your workplace is experiencing depression or another mental health problem, adjustments may make it easier for the employee; this can often be changes in attitude and culture as opposed to costly interventions.
Typical workplace adjustments will include things like flexible hours so they can leave or start earlier or later, a change of workspace, return to work policies like a phased return, temporary or permanent changes in their job role or responsibilities, changes to break times, increased support from managers to help manage and prioritise workload and the provision of a quiet room so the employee is able to take time out if required.
Return To Work Plan
If an employee is returning to your workplace after a period of time off work due to depression or another mental health illness it is important that regular communication is maintained during their time off so you can check in on how they are and when they are hoping to return to work.
By creating a return-to-work plan that is personalised to the employee you can discuss changes to be made with the employee so they are reassured things will be easier for them on their return, that their contribution is valued and their needs will be met.
If you require expert guidance on this sensitive issue please contact the team at aspire cambridge on 01223 855441.