As you may already know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. While the topic of mental health has become less stigmatized, organizations that plan a sustainable campaign with foresight and long-term, tangible results in mind are few and far between.
This month is the perfect opportunity, not just a token gesture to raise awareness, but to introduce and promote healthy mental wellbeing practices.
Whether it’s triggered by a career transition, the death of a loved one, or the breakdown of a relationship, we all have experiences that challenge our mental health at some stage in our life. When speaking about physical illnesses, you often hear ‘prevention is better than cure’. Well, preventing mental ill-health is no different.
The Mental Health Foundation has chosen ‘Nature’ as the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16 May). Why nature? The Foundation states that it is “so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realize good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world.”
And after a year of lockdown, we can all agree that nature and the freedom it provides has never been more appreciated. However, as workplaces have transitioned into a digital space and the boundaries between work and home life are even more blurred, we have to make a more conscious effort to get into nature.
Here are 4 ideas to create positive, healthy mental habits in the workplace:
- CREATE BOUNDARIES. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, KEEP THEM.
Boundaries may vary from one person to the next but in general, you should have a set amount of hours that you do your work within. Be sure to manage the expectations of your colleagues; it should be clearly communicated to your team and your own manager that if they need to reach you, they can do so during your specified hours. Your team will thank you for it and likely follow suit too.
- DESK OR DOORSTEP DROP.
This one is easier to do with teams working from an office but it is doable with teams working from home too – you just might need a little helping hand from your HR department.
Famous for their tagline, ‘have a break, have a KitKat’, leave a KitKat on every team member’s desk, along with an informative card that highlights Mental Health Awareness Month and where employees can go if they’re feeling overwhelmed or in need of help. If you have a virtual team, you may need employees to opt into this campaign instead of it being a surprise so that they can share their address in advance.
- CREATE AND COMMUNICATE A SAFE SPACE
Is there a safe space for those in need to ask for help? Raise your hand if your immediate thought was “HR”.
Despite it being the obvious candidate for employee wellbeing, the HR department can be intimidating when you’re already feeling vulnerable. Instead, raise awareness on the accredited and recommended clinics in your area, and make their contact details available to your employees. You could even invite a representative from the clinic to do a talk to your team. This goes a long way to starting the conversation and reducing the stigma around mental health.
Another way to create a safe space is by forming a team of one representative from each department within your company. This team should meet on a monthly basis to discuss and address employee concerns. The chairperson or leader of this internal team can then highlight these issues to Senior Leadership anonymously.
- CEO COFFEE CATCH-UP
Designating a quick 5-10minute coffee with a member of Senior Leadership and each department can do wonders for morale and employee engagement. Leaders may be inspired by topics and issues that are raised, and employees feel appreciated and listened to. Win, win!
Got any more tried and tested methods? We would love to hear them!
For more information on Mental Health Awareness Week/Month, check out: