It’s Mental Illness Awareness Week-a week centred around education and raising awareness of mental illness. In respect of this week, we’ve compiled a list of tips you can use within your daily lives. Whether you’re at home or work, an employee or an employer. These tips are sure to help promote positive mental health, wherever you are and whoever you are.
What is mental health and why is it important?
Mental health is a combination of emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health can affect our mood, productivity and how we adapt to stress. Therefore, preserving and promoting mental health is extremely important, both within the workplace and at home.
On average, £42 billion a year is lost in productivity due to employee absences because of poor mental health and mental health illness. This results in a loss of 30.4 days of productive time per year. However, workplace environments that have high levels of mental well-being note increases of productivity by as much as 12%.
It’s clear then, that promoting good mental health is in everybody’s best interest, from employers to employees alike.
Here’s some great tips you can use to promote good mental health at work, both as an employer and employee.
Top tips for employers:
1. Offer flexible work options
Allowing employees to work from home can increase mental well-being through reducing the stress of the daily traffic-filled commute. Working from home also alleviates stress through getting employees out of the (what can be) noisy work environment every now and again, allowing for increased concentration and productivity while working.
2. Offer training and development
Investing resources into training and developing your workforce leads to increased levels of morale, motivation and self-worth for employees. This has a cyclical effect as the better employees feel, the more productive they’ll become. Offering further training and development for staff also minimises the chances of employees leaving, as employees feel valued with the sense of being afforded increased responsibility.
3. Provide team building days/work outings
“Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success” – Henry Ford
The above quote from Henry Ford says it all. When employees come together, it leads to increased business success.
Providing employees with opportunities to socialise outside of the workplace increases social relationships and encourages collaboration across departments, leading to new ideas and business innovation. Work outings also allow for an increased sense of social well-being, providing employees with increased motivation which leads to increased productivity.
Top tips for employees:
1. Try a change of scenery
Going for a walk during work breaks can improve mental well-being through releasing endorphins-the “feel good” chemical. Walking also reduces stress, makes you more alert, and enables increased productivity. The best part of walking is the multiple physical and mental health benefits and, its free!
Taking just five minutes a day to meditate can have significant mental health advantages. Meditation can be as simple as closing your eyes and practicing deep breathing to listening to relaxing podcasts. Meditation helps decrease cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone) and can improve your mood. Meditating also makes you feel less tired and can stimulate increased creativity. Try putting five minutes of your working day aside and give meditation a go yourself.
3. Get the right work/life balance
Thanks to technology, we can access work wherever we are, whenever we want. Having such access can sometimes feel like a curse however and working life can find its way into our homes all too often. Maintaining a healthy balance between the two can have a positive impact, allowing a feeling of being in control, resulting in happier employees.
Getting the right work-life balance also increases productivity and reduces stress, resulting in less instances of sickness and absenteeism.
It’s clear mental health is a big part of all our daily lives. Whether you’re an employer, or an employee, maintaining and promoting mental health is important for us all and we should try our best to maintain it, personally, collectively and within our businesses and organisations.