Encouraging an open dialogue on mental health
The Mental Health at Work report published last year by Business in the Community (BITC) found that only 11% of employees had discussed a recent mental health problem with their line manager and that half of employees said they would not discuss mental health with their line manager. “While we are seeing a greater focus and commitment from employers to create mentally healthy workplaces, there is still much work to be done to address this fear around speaking out about mental health at work,” said EAPA Chair, Neil Mountford.
“An important first step is to foster a culture of acceptance so that employees are not anxious or intimidated about discussing mental health in the workplace. There is no quick fix, this is about creating a long term cultural shift in attitudes and approach but what is clear is that the most effective way to this is to ensure it is openly championed by senior management and becomes embedded in the company’s values. Encouraging ambassadors and champions, from across all levels of the organisation, to share their stories is crucial as these can be used to initiate further discussions in team meetings and in one-to-ones as is equipping line managers with the mental health first aid tools, training and ongoing coaching they need to support and encourage their teams to speak out.
24 hour counselling
“It is well known that EAPs offer a 24 hour counselling service which can be accessed by employees, but there is much less awareness around the wide range of other services offered by our registered EAP providers such as stress audits, risk assessments and mental health first aid training and ongoing coaching for line managers which can support both the development and implementation of mental health strategies in the workplace. We are also seeing the most enlightened employers using new technology to create opportunities for dialogue and openness with the use of digital forums that link into EAPs and the overall mental health strategy and systems they have in place,” said Neil.