31st August 2021

The Top 3 Mental Health Fails in the Workplace

One in four people in your business will suffer from poor mental health this year. If you have a team of 10 people that’s 2.5 people! and in a business of 300, that’s 75 people! 

So as a manager of a small team there’s a lot of pressure on you to maintain team morale and performance.  Or as an HR professional supporting the wellbeing of an entire company that’s a huge responsibility to reduce absenteeism, employee churn and increase employee satisfaction all whilst doing the day job.

Deloitte currently values the cost of mental health at £45 billion for UK employers.  Worth noting this is an increase of 16% from the previous report. With all the wellbeing initiatives that have been implemented over the last few years...that says to us that a lot of these initiatives whilst well-meant are not having the impact required to get to the core of the problem.

So, what do employers, leaders, managers need to do?  Well firstly stop just talking about mental health and start implementing a more “human” focused framework and toolkit that works for your employees.

Here are our top tips to preventing the most common mental health fails in the workplace.  You’ll be rewarded for it in the long run!

1. Stop Talking, Start Listening!

To implement a long-term culture of wellbeing it needs to start from the top down, that means business owners, stakeholders, and your c-suite need to start listening, and as Mind put it in their Mental Health at Work Commitment:

“Prioritise mental health in the workplace by developing and delivering a systematic programme of activity”.

And to do that you’ll need to start actively listening to what your employees are really feeling and saying.  And we’re not talking about listening to their personal issues and challenges, but what they’re saying about their experience of working at your company and the impact it plays alongside their mental wellbeing.

We challenge you to ask yourself as an owner, leader, or HR professional the following questions:

• When building our workplace culture are we really listening to the problems our employees are experiencing?
• Are we working with them to build a wellbeing culture that works?
• Or are we just asking them to validate what we already think they want?

Once you start listening, it will be much easier to implement an approach that delivers growth both personally and on a business level.

2. Stop thinking you’re an expert

Some, maybe even most of you have probably had one of your team members approach you with a personal issue and you’ve just felt completely out of your depth in handling the wellbeing of someone going through something, even if you’ve experienced it yourself.

And whilst it’s great to see an increase in the conversations being had these days around the topic of mental health, it’s easy to start to believe that you’re well versed in the subject and that you can handle it internally.

However, we can pretty much safely assume that you’re not qualified to deliver mental health support to your teams and that you don’t have experience of working with people with anxiety, low self-esteem, bereavement, anger management (the list goes on).

And that’s fine!  If you’re made the first step and are committing as a business to prioritise and support mental health. Then you are already on your way to setting up a strong framework for your organisation.

Now it’s time to look for those experts, a business that you can partner with to provide qualified and educated advice to your employees.

3. Don’t lose sight of the working boundaries

Putting aside the fact that you’re most likely underqualified to deal with many of the issues behind poor mental health.  One of the big risks you run of not implementing the right tools and support is that those work/life professional boundaries become quite blurred. 

Employees with poor mental health or even those just looking for coaching and personal development need a safe space to discuss how they’re feeling. With just a simple lunchtime separate from the daily work routine and the luxury to eat those easy vegan lunches, employees can easily develop themselves mentally.  And as much as we’d all like to pride ourselves on our ability to be non-judgemental, blurring those lines brings its own challenges.

Maintaining those boundaries allows you to get on with your own job, whilst still promoting a positive culture around supporting mental health.

So why not give your employees the tools and support they need, without trying to become their own personal therapist.  Leave that to the experts!

If you’d like to know more about the tools and support, Take A Seat offer then please drop us your details on our Partnerships page.


Deloitte: Research – January 2020,  Mental Health at Work Commitment from Mind

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