Mental health in the workplace
At Stribe we believe that your employee’s mental health should be treated just as importantly as their physical health. Everyone experiences mental health concerns to some degree – in family life, relationships, workplaces, and communities. It impacts everyone.
One of the best ways to get started on this journey is to run effective employee surveys. As a provider, one of our objectives is to empower you to better support the mental health and wellbeing of your employees – all through gathering real-time insights from your team and utilising the data.
- What is mental health?
- Why is talking about mental health at work so important?
- What is the Employee Mental Health Expectation Gap?
- What affects mental health at work?
- How HR can support mental health at work
- Survey questions to ask employees about their mental health
- Supporting the mental health & wellbeing of remote employees
- How to recognise the signs of mental health distress at work
- Mental health support resources in the UK
Free Download: Workplace Mental Health Awareness Resource Pack
What is mental health?
In very simple terms, mental health refers to our mind’s wellbeing. It encompasses our ability to handle stress, maintain healthy relationships, make good decisions, and deal with life’s many challenges.
Good mental health is not just the absence of mental illness, but also involves feeling confident, resilient, and emotionally balanced. It’s an essential aspect of overall wellbeing and contributes to our ability to lead a fulfilling and productive life.
Why is talking about mental health at work so important?
Globally, millions of people experience mental health challenges, and in the UK alone, one in four individuals is likely to experience a mental health problem each year. With so many of us affected, it’s clear that each and every workplace should be doing its best to support their people.
By openly addressing mental health in the workplace, you can build a strong and supportive environment that encourages early intervention, reduces stigma, and provides resources for those in need. This not only helps your employees maintain their wellbeing, but also leads to a more productive, happier, and healthier workplace.
What is the Employee Mental Health Expectation Gap?
The Employee Mental Health Expectation Gap refers to the disparity between employees’ expectations for mental health support in the workplace and what their employers actually provide. It highlights the need for organisations to align with employees’ growing expectations regarding mental health initiatives, such as access to counselling, stress reduction programs, and supportive workplace cultures.
Addressing this gap is crucial for creating and sustaining a mentally healthy and engaged workforce.
What affects mental health at work?
Several factors can affect mental health at work. While it’s challenging to rank them definitively, here are significant and widely-know causes that can impact mental health in the workplace.
- Unrealistic job demands: Excessive workloads, unrealistic deadlines, and high job demands can lead to stress, burnout, and anxiety among employees. Feeling overwhelmed is one of the leading reasons that lead to work negatively impacting mental wellbeing.
- Negative colleague relationships: Poor workplace relationships, conflicts with colleagues or superiors, and a lack of social support can contribute to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
- Work-life imbalance: An imbalance between work and personal life, including long working hours and insufficient time for rest and relaxation, can take a toll on mental health. Striking a healthy work-life balance is crucial for overall wellbeing.
- Job insecurity: Fear of job loss, unstable employment conditions, and economic uncertainty can lead to chronic stress and anxiety. Employees who feel insecure about their job stability may experience financial wellbeing.
- Lack of control and autonomy: Employees who feel they have little control over their work or decision-making processes may experience reduced job satisfaction and increased stress. Autonomy and a sense of control is a huge factor when it comes to being mentally healthy at work.
- Poor communication and feedback: Poor communication within an organisation, including a lack of feedback and recognition, can contribute to feelings of disengagement and low morale.
What’s also important to understand is that these factors can interact with each other and vary from person to person. Additionally, organisational culture, management practices, and the overall work environment play significant roles in shaping these factors’ impact on mental health.
As an employer, you should proactively address these issues to promote a mentally healthy workplace.
How HR can support mental health at work
The best way to support your employees with their mental wellbeing is to have a mental health policy in place. According to the CIPD, this includes having a clear statement that shows your organisation’s commitment to wellbeing support for your staff. It should be championed by all senior staff and managers, and regularly reviewed for improvement.
- Normalise talking about mental health
It’s difficult for many of us to discuss our struggles. The first step in helping your employee’s feel supported is to create a culture based on trust and open communication. You can achieve this a number of ways – one of which is normalising talking about mental wellbeing with awareness training. Organise workshops for employees and managers to increase their understanding of common mental health conditions, misconceptions, spotting the signs, and destigmatisation
- Mental health employee surveys
Employee mental health surveys provide a platform for staff to anonymously express their thoughts, concerns, and feedback around wellbeing. By actively listening to employees via surveys, you will gather authentic feedback and identify areas of improvement, gain insights into specific challenges, and be able to adapt mental health initiatives to address your employees’ needs effectively. This approach builds a culture of transparency and trust, which also allows you to implement compassionate interventions.
- Provide mental health days
Mental health should be treated with as much importance as physical health; and so if an employee doesn’t feel mentally fit to show up to work, they should be able to convey this honestly to their workplace without judgement. Mental health days are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s workforces – an important step towards breaking down stigma and creating healthier workplaces. By simply acknowledging the importance of mental health days, you will send a clear message that you prioritise mental wellbeing.
Survey questions to ask employees about their mental health
Surveying employees about their mental health is a powerful way for you to gain insights into your workforce’s wellbeing. By asking thoughtful and empathetic questions, you can uncover challenges, identify areas for improvement, and create a workplace that truly prioritises mental health.
Explore a range of survey questions designed to engage employees in open and honest conversations about their mental wellbeing.
Supporting the mental health & wellbeing of remote employees
Mental health isn’t by any means a new challenge to HR leaders, but the way in which they can support their employees has become more challenging in today’s remote and often isolated working environments. 67% of employees say that they feel isolated from their peers if working individually, or remotely.
Watch the on-demand webinar below.
- The impact of mental health in the workplace
- What mental health & wellbeing strategies work best
- How to understand and support remote and/or isolated employees
- How to connect your employees with each other & resources they need
How to recognise the signs of mental health distress at work
Recognising the signs of mental distress at work isn’t always straightforward. It’s important to understand that the signs can vary widely between each person, and some individuals may mask their distress well.
Many people find it difficult to talk about mental health. When in doubt, it’s a good practice for colleagues and managers to approach the individual with care, empathy, and offer support. Encouraging open and non-judgmental communication can be instrumental in helping someone who may be experiencing mental health distress.
- Changes in behaviour: Significant changes in behaviour, such as increased irritability, mood swings, or withdrawal from social interactions, can be indicators of mental health distress.
- Decline in productivity: A noticeable decline in someone’s work performance, missed deadlines, or reduced attention to tasks may be a sign of mental wellbeing challenges.
- Increased absenteeism: Frequent or unexplained absences from work, along with a higher rate of sick days, can be a sign that someone is struggling with their mental health.
- Physical symptoms: Complaints like headaches, fatigue or generally feeling unwell can sometimes be linked to stress.
- Isolation and withdrawal: If an employee becomes increasingly isolated, avoids team activities, or withdraws from social events, it may be a sign of mental distress.
- Difficulty concentrating: Struggling to focus, make decisions, or remember tasks can sometimes be related to anxiety or depression.
Mental health support resources in the UK
The importance of mental health support has gained significant recognition in recent years. With a growing emphasis on destigmatising mental health issues and providing accessible resources, the UK offers a range of support networks and services for individuals and organisations seeking assistance and guidance on their mental wellbeing journey.
A list of organisations and charities that can provide hotlines, helpful resources, advice, and expert information: