How to create an effective mental health and wellbeing strategy

22 May 2019 Client Blogs / News
How to create an effective mental health and wellbeing strategy

On the 9th May 2019, Morgan Hunt welcomed David Beeney, from the mental health consultancy firm ‘Breaking the Silence’ to discuss with HR professionals how to approach offering support for mental health needs within an organisation. With 4 out of 10 suicides reported as unexpected from people who know the victim, poor mental health can go unnoticed until it is too late.

David has first-hand experience of being an employee hiding his struggles with his mental health across a 30 year career in the training sector. He gave real life examples to illustrate just how an employee’s feelings can materialise in non verbal ways. It could be manifest as a person finding it difficult to speak in a public environment, not completing tasks or just doing things differently to their usual style.

The workplace may not be the source of anxiety but may exacerbate feelings of stress or being overwhelmed. Employers have a duty of care and, in most cases, managers within organisations want to help a member of their team but many people mask their problems and fear appearing vulnerable in their professional life. David explained some key ideas around positively helping employees to share their anxiety and advice for HR about working with them to improve wellbeing and offering assistance.

What are the signs to look out for?

Nonverbal cues are very important. When individuals feel mentally unwell, they may change their behaviour. It can be avoiding situations, becoming less responsive, appearing distant or not actively listening, for example. If the employee has been in the organisation for an amount of time, changes may be more subtle. 

What we say and how we express ourselves in words also has a role. A person may have become more aggressive or indeed the reverse. They may avoid conversations or keep their interactions short.

How do you help without offending?

Prepare managers about the seriousness of mental health. From an organisational perspective, interactive training sessions can help. This is particularly useful to prepare managers for what they perceive as awkward conversations. In this scenario, leaders are taken out of their comfort zone to explore their own vulnerability and conversation techniques to find a common ground for sharing issues that are core to a person’s mental wellbeing.

Make mental health an open conversation

Mental fatigue can happen to anyone, so the promotion of any Employee Assistance programmes across a company is vital if this forms part of your employee benefits. Campaigns to raise awareness, with free materials from organisations such as Mind, can also raise awareness of the mental health and reduce the perception of it as a taboo subject.

Use the right language 

Employee issues should be escalated to HR where appropriate, so the education of managers is paramount. HR may be able to help in joint discussions using the right language to encourage an employee to share their concerns.

What next?

Treat the mental and physical challenges in the same way. Get your leadership teams on board and share the message to encourage employees to be able to alert you to stress before it impacts their lives. Being open about mental health is good for everyone.

Here is just some of the excellent feedback we had from previous attendees of David’s Masterclass:  

“Excellent speaker, thoroughly thought provoking, thank you Morgan Hunt for running this”

“Spectacular, inspiring human who has changed my thinking about a way forward with wellbeing in my organisation” 

“Thought provoking and relevant to the workplace” “David was an incredible speaker and the way in which he shared his personal experiences was extremely humbling”

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