Towards An Integrated Approach to Workplace Mental Health

workplace mental health

It’s a time to reflect on our personal well-being but also a time for businesses to focus on the steps that they can take to break down the barriers to encourage their staff to seek help and support as well as address the elephant in the room – the STIGMA!

This article provides nine ways for organisations to implement an integrated approach to workplace mental health. The development of these priorities was led by Angela Martin and her colleagues at UTas, please download the white paper. These are practical solutions for businesses in tackling and supporting workplace mental health. If you have already implemented all or some of these, congratulations and keep up the good work! If there are some that you haven’t yet attempted, we encourage you this week to try and implement at least one.

Preventing Workplace Mental Health Harm

1. Develop knowledge, skills, and resources for psychological health and safety at all levels in workplaces.

Employers, leaders and people managers should have the skills and knowledge to identify hazards and put in place appropriate control measures. They also need the ability to talk to employees and know when, and how, to get expert advice on psychological health and safety.

2. Require and support employers to develop a psychological health and safety strategy, policy and procedures.

Organisations should develop comprehensive mental health and wellbeing strategies, and accompanying policies and procedures. They should address work-related risks to employee mental health and wellbeing.

3. Develop emotional and social intelligence in leaders and managers.

Leaders and managers should understand their own and others’ emotional responses and should be included in efforts to develop capability in psychological health and safety. Leaders and managers should encourage others to have an open and understanding attitude to what people say to them about the pressures of their work or other issues.

Promoting the Positive

4. Design jobs to promote positive mental health.

Everyone in the workplace should contribute to a work environment that is positive and health-promoting with a focus on strengths, opportunities, and resources that encourage employees to reach their full potential. Effective job design contributes to the effectiveness of the organisation by encouraging creativity and empowering employees to develop more efficient ways of working.

5. Provide training and development in positive approaches.

Employees at all levels can be provided with information and education on evidence-based strategies that can enhance positive mental health (for example, resilience and mindfulness). Employees
should be provided with a variety of positive workplace mental health and well-being programs.

6. Assess and promote the strengths of individuals and teams.

Leaders and managers should know their own strengths and the strengths of their team so that they can create a positive environment where these are utilised to their fullest and people excel. When people appreciate that each person has a unique set of strengths that can be leveraged, it encourages them to value individual differences and contributions.

See our article, 9 Mental Health Self-Care Strategies.

Managing Mental Illness

7. Undertake stigma reduction and mental health literacy programs to foster a work environment where people are able to seek help early without adverse consequences in the workplace.

Effectively responding to employees with a mental health problem, regardless of cause, is a critical component of the integrated approach. Workplaces can play an important role in encouraging employees to seek help early for mental illness.

8. Ensure clear roles, responsibilities, and processes for supporting employees with mental illness.

Having the appropriate support in place for employees recovering from a mental health problem can mean the difference between them recovering faster and staying in their job, or leaving their employer or the workforce altogether. Ensuring there is clarity regarding roles and responsibilities in this area, is critical to creating a supportive work environment for the employees.

9. Implement flexible work practices to facilitate the accommodation of individual needs.

Flexible work practices enable individuals to make adjustments to their changing circumstances and can assist employees in balancing work and personal commitments while meeting business
needs and objectives.  Flexibility should be tailored to the individual needs of employees, rather than a one size fits all approach.

See our article, 11 Mental Health Symptoms That Affect us Physically.

Online and Digital Prevention Tool

Part of an integrated approach to workplace mental health is including online and mobile solutions such as the Tap into Safety platform that helps organisations to identify staff groups with mental health issues early on. It helps to increase mental health literacy by providing refresher training on workplace stressors that impact mental health. Finally, it provides an alternative method of a non-confrontational way to encourage help-seeking.

For businesses investing in workplace mental health,  our software helps by intervening early to support worker mental health better by providing relevant and interactive workplace wellbeing training. Our mental health courses teach valuable coping strategies and encourage users to reach out for support (on average only 5% of employees access their Employment Assistance Provider when 20% have a mental health issue right now – stigma plays a huge role here).

Clients have experienced a 100% increase in help-seeking activities when using the Tap into Safety mental health training solution, as part of their wellbeing programme. By attacking stigma head-on and encouraging help-seeking early, we reduce the escalation of serious stress claims. This supports employees to reach out to seek care when they are not feeling as good as they should.

Finally, the psychometric measurement tool (animated, gamified DASS-21) is a world-first in its use across organisations, that together with our filters, enables them to pinpoint groups of staff in mental health decline so that they can target and tailor their wellbeing education programmes to support improvement. Why not view the video or try a free demo?


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