Recently the AHRI Diversity and Inclusion Network hosted a panel on mental health awareness in the workplace. The panel featured;
The panellists drew on their personal experiences and expertise to tackle the ongoing stigma of mental health in the office and offered advice on how to help yourself and others seek help.
Work is permeating into our private lives, with flexible options becoming increasingly common, work emails being integrated onto personal devices and professional social networking taking over, getting a break can be hard to come by. There’s no doubt that the professional lives of many are bleeding into the private sphere. With this addition comes added stress as the line between work life and home life becomes increasingly blurred. Absenteeism is no longer the key indicator for disengagement, employees are still attending work throughout the stress, but are instead present but mentally absent. So how can we, as HR professionals approach presenteeism as an issue and set professional boundaries for our employees?
Here’s what we learned from the panellists:
Performing self-checks is also key to creating a culture of mental health awareness, as leaders we must lead by example through taking time to understand where our own head space is at. Self-care is the best way to keep yourself on track, ensure that you’re consistently checking in with yourself and how you’re mental tracking with projects. This goes hand in hand with establishing boundaries for work and assessing how you are with keeping within them and adjusting where necessary.
Your employees can still be performing without showing signs of mental distress. Checking in with them regularly and promoting a culture of mental well-being is necessary to understanding where your team is at. Regular conversations can alert you to red flags and give you an idea of what’s possibly unreasonable stress for your team.
People want to perform, nobody goes into a job wanting to fail so where there may have been lapses in judgement or half-completed tasks it probably isn’t because your employee intended on that to happen. This happens to be a major signal that your employee may be struggling mentally at work and should be followed up with a conversation about mental health.
Taking leave to look after mental health is often treated very differently than when you’ve taken leave from physical injuries. Our panellists discussed how they have experienced this difference and spoke about how recovering from time away due to mental health issues needs to be treated more like a physical injury because presently, it’s brushed over and there aren’t many measures implemented to sooth the transition back to work. If you were to break a leg there would be
Every case is different and putting together a mental health plan should be encouraged to assist your team members to get their work-life back on track. Each plan must be tailored to what the employee feels comfortable with so that there is no unreasonable
Patience and empathy is key to facilitating the transition back to work as well as regular communication with the team member.
People have lives outside of work, and as discussed in the aforementioned, this line is often blurred. However, sometimes this is necessary. Our panellists discussed the balance of work and life, occasionally the scales get weighted towards work and this encroachment on our personal lives needs to be re-balanced. Flexible working conditions help re-balance these scales and allow your employees to take care of their personal lives whilst addressing their work responsibilities.
Mental health isn’t something that only needs to be addressed when something goes wrong, much like your physical health it needs to be constantly maintained. One of the best ways you and your organisation can address mental health would be to hire mental health officers or train your team members by providing them with mental health courses that teach your team how to recognise warning signs and deal with them correctly.
Organisations need key people who are available to observe behaviour and know when to take action in a meaningful way. Encouraging this training promotes a culture of mental health awareness and openness that allows for people to feel comfortable to address the issues they are having in the workplace.
If you have any further questions or queries relating to the content discussed in this blog, we would like to encourage you to visit http://www.emhprac.org.au/
Another resource to consider is the Mental Health First Aid website and courses which can be found at https://mhfa.com.au/
If you’re struggling with mental health, please reach out today –