At the time of writing it’s 10:30 on a Tuesday morning and I’ve already received 3 emails today concerning employee mental health. The subjects include workplace wellbeing, an invitation to an employee mental health seminar, and news that April is Stress Awareness Month.
Clearly the employee mental health industry is alive and well and there’s now a huge level of support available. That’s all good news and by now, hopefully, stigmatism in most workplaces is a thing of the past. Support can be provided by employee assistance programmes (EAP’s), in-house mental first aiders, external training sessions, wellness apps and specialist charities. But given such a broad church it can be difficult to pinpoint the best approach or to decide upon an appropriate level of investment. Moreover, there’s real concern that for many employers, whilst they may well provide superb mental health programmes, the anticipated staff engagement simply isn’t there.
The Mental Health Foundation reports that 14.7% of UK workers suffer mental health problems in the workplace, and 44% typically suffer from stress in any one day (The Economist). Yet taking EAP’s as an example, engagement is typically between 3-5%. Whilst employers appreciate the benefits of a well-motivated team, something’s not working when employees don’t engage with a programme that’s been put in place for them.
All too often then, whilst the support is technically there, the onus is on employees to dig it out. Behaviourally, that’s not always going to be the best way to generate engagement.
In looking at the research for our own filmed case studies, one of the key takeaways is that discussions around mental health in the workplace should be normalised to such an extent that they become routine. That doesn’t have to mean engaging in lengthy seminars and training sessions, it just suggests that conversations can take place anywhere; at the water cooler or in team meetings, appraisals or management one-to-ones. If everyone can recognise the symptoms of emerging mental health problems and understands the basics for dealing with them, then managers can adapt their working practices and colleagues can offer mutual support.
Constant communication is key. Responding to a once-a-year awareness campaign like Stress Awareness Month is all good and well, but it’s also rather temporary and easily forgotten. So how can employers create a culture where mental health remains at the top of the agenda throughout the year? Answering that question became the driving force behind Gallantium.
We’ve created a platform where topical new support content is sent to employees every month of the year, and where it then becomes available 24/7. Better still, the premium videos feature dramatised case studies that people find accessible and easy to relate to. If employers genuinely care about supporting their staff and making it easy for them to engage, then they could explore our platform to see just how easy and beneficial it can be.