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Mental Health in the Workplace 

January and February can often be the most challenging months but this year with the new lockdown and the ongoing uncertainty it may be an extra struggle for many, impacting their mental health.

Workplaces have an important role to play in enabling people to feel heard, understood, and supported. I understand for managers, HR teams, and leaders this may feel like a difficult task especially in the current climate, with maybe your own struggles as well. But small changes can make a difference to you as well as your employees.

An open, inclusive culture is imperative in supporting mental health. If senior leaders across an organisation can have honest conversations about their struggles whether this is stress, anxiety, grief, the impact of juggling work and homeschooling, or isolation this can enable others to be honest. Culture change within a workplace takes time and consistent effort but the rewards not only for individuals but also the business are huge, ensuring a company thrives in challenging times.

The last year has shown the impact external situations can have on our mental health, it is the perfect time to ask employees how they are feeling, keep asking, and really listen to the answer. If someone answers fine (as we often do) you could say it's really challenging at the moment, I'm finding it tough, how are you really feeling? You might just gain a more honest answer. I often write about the importance of listening, with the extra barriers of remote working it is more important than ever. We are missing the little interactions whilst making coffee or passing on the stairs which can help to build up a picture of someone if they are experiencing difficulties. Therefore in remote interactions, empathetic listening and asking open questions are imperative to build trust and understanding.

Until we acknowledge difficulty we can not take the steps to make changes. For many just sharing how they feel will make a real difference, but unless they have a good relationship with their manager or team they are unlikely to be open. Supporting managers to have increased awareness and improved communication skills through training and development is an integral part of any workplace wellbeing agenda.

Another great way of improving culture and highlighting your commitment to mental health in the workplace is to participate and share resources from the many great awareness raising days.

Time to Talk Day is on Thursday 4th February, the theme this year is The Power of Small- how a small conversation can make a real difference. Time to Talk Day is a great opportunity to engage your organisation in talking about mental health, they offer resources, ideas and structure.

Mental Health awareness is not a topic you visit once and tick a box, it is something that you need to keep on the agenda. Many people do not engage with the subject initially often through fear or misunderstanding or until it is impacting them, so we need to keep finding different ways to engage and stimulate the discussion.

Utilising awareness raising days is a way to revisit topics or start a new conversation. If you are interested in training courses or workshops on mental health within the workplace please get in touch.

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