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Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Work in the New Normal

6 Ways To Support Employees With Mental Health Problems

As mental health in the workplace becomes an increasing priority, business leaders must do more to care for their staff

Despite an increased awareness of mental health issues, many employees still struggle in silence because they either do not know where to go for help or they fear that they will encounter stigma and discrimination at work.

This lack of action can have serious implications for any organization’s bottom line. According to the World Health Organization, the estimated cost of depression and anxiety to the global economy is US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. On the other hand, workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity, and benefit from associated economic gains.

So how can business leaders manage and support their employees with mental health concerns? Below are some ways: 

  1. Make mental health training mandatory for managers and supervisors. A 2019 study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine revealed that of the 2,921 managers who had access to mental health training in their workplaces, all displayed an improved understanding of mental health overall, with half  reviewing the responsibilities of their staff in an effort to prevent possible mental health issues and 57% of them starting discussions with their employees to improve their understanding of anxiety and depression.
    Managers are in the perfect position to help colleagues in the workplace because they are the ones who have a better understanding of an employee’s day-to-day well-being and can provide a direct line for inquiries and support. Note that training does not mean instructing team leaders to diagnose and treat mental health concerns; instead, it’s teaching them what to do if they see signs and symptoms of emotional distress in their juniors, including how to obtain help.
  2. Support employees through listening rather than telling. The most meaningful and helpful way to fight the stigma of mental illness is to encourage all members of staff to be willing to listen when a colleague is talking about their experiences — and to listen with empathy. According to Rob Stephenson,  founder of InsideOut, a social enterprise working to end the stigma of mental ill-health in the workplace — “We don’t need to understand every condition, or every person, to be good, human listeners. We just need to become better active listeners in the workplace, so we can say ‘OK, I can see you’re struggling here, let’s have a…chat and you can tell me about it.”
  3. Establish an employee assistance program (EAP) and encourage employees to use it. While many companies use an EAP to support workplace mental health, a 2017 study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information revealed that only 1%-5% of employees of a company avail of the benefits of an EAP due to stigma, shame, and concerns about confidentiality.
    Here are some things you can do to assuage their fears:
  • Communicate — during onboarding sessions and through visuals or email reminders — what EAP services are available and how these can help employees respond to personal or work issues. Emphasize that the services are confidential and free of charge. 
  • Provide direct access to mental health professionals via phone, email, or chat. This allows an extra layer of comfort and privacy.
  1. Use communication to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health resources. Don’t wait until Mental Health Awareness Month (May) or Suicide Prevention Month (September) to talk about mental health, EAP benefits, and other resources. 
  • Promote them frequently, such as in monthly newsletters, weekly departmental meetings, or even in casual virtual catch-ups. 
  • Ensure that your executives mention emotional well-being every time they talk about recruiting talent and building an inclusive culture that helps employees bring their best selves.
  • Offer webinars so employees can learn more about mental health and resilience.
  1. Promote holistic well-being. Mental health is more than just one’s state of mind; it involves several factors, including physical, social, emotional, and cultural wellness. Business leaders therefore need to integrate all aspects of this by:
  • Building as much flexibility as possible into all employees’ schedules so that they have opportunities for work-life balance. A 2019 survey conducted by UK-based event management company Wildgoose discovered that 39 per cent of those who worked flexibly had benefited from better mental health and increased productivity.
  • Promoting or offering access to apps that can help with stress reduction, sleep, and meditation such as Headspace or Calm. 
  • Offering fitness center memberships, subsidies or reimbursements for fitness classes. Ultimate Kronos Group, an American multinational technology company, set up virtual fitness classes for employees and their children in the middle of 2020 and even held a competitive company-wide step challenge in October.
  • Encouraging employees to use their vacation time, such as by limiting the amount of vacation employees can carry over into the next year
  • Providing accommodations and developing a return-to-work process so that employees who need to take a leave of absence because of a mental health issue feel supported when they come back. An example would be letting the returning employee resume work step-by-step, gradually increasing work hours and task complexity until the symptoms of the mental health concern have subsided.
  1. Make work interesting, social, and fun. Create opportunities for employees to build connections with each other, such as through virtual social events and electronic message boards. When team members have strong positive relationships at work and  are able to tell their co-workers and managers what they struggle with and how they can best be supported, it opens communication and smooths out many misunderstandings, paving the way for higher productivity. 

It is an employer’s responsibility to create a workplace where people feel they can be open and supported. Helping employees who are unwilling to talk about their struggles is a daunting task, so it might be a good idea to partner with a mental health and well-being company to help you craft a mental health program for your workplace. MindNation (www.themindnation.com) is a one-stop shop for all your well-being needs. Their program is based on an individual’s holistic dimensions of wellness to ensure that services provided suit his or her unique requirements and objectives. Email them at [email protected] to learn more about their products and services. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Employee Wellness Mental Health 101 Self Help Work in the New Normal

Warning Signs That Your Employee Has A Mental Health Concern

Knowing what to look for is the first step to opening a productive dialogue surrounding mental health and getting your team member the help they need

According to the WHO, 1 in 5 people all over the world will experience a mental health concern at some point in their lifetime. These statistics, compounded by the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic, make it highly likely that someone in your workplace is experiencing mental health concerns like stress, depression, and anxiety. 

Because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, employees who are struggling may be reluctant to come forward. As a result, mental health concerns often go unrecognized and untreated, leading to bigger problems for the organization and the employee in terms of lowered productivity, increased absenteeism and presenteeism, and poor relationships with team members. 

It is important for managers to be able to identify the warning signs of mental health concerns. “Early detection and intervention may help to prevent problems from getting worse,” says psychologist Dr. Rhalf Jayson Guanco. “By identifying the issues that the team member is probably not aware of or does not acknowledge as problematic, but which impact or are more likely to impact on their well-being, we can determine if immediate action is required or if assistance from a qualified mental health professional will be necessary.”

According to Dr. Guanco, if your employee exhibits the signs and symptoms below for more than two weeks, it could be a sign of a mental health concern: 

Appearance and behavior

  • Appears untidy; displays poor hygiene
  • Trembles or shakes
  • Wears inappropriate attire 

Cognition

  • Seems confused or disoriented
  • Has gaps in memory of events
  • Has serious difficulty in problem solving

Emotion

  • Appears sad/depressed
  • Tends to be anxious for no apparent reason
  • Switches emotions abruptly

Speech

  • Speaks too quickly or too slowly
  • Vocabulary becomes inconsistent with the level of education
  • Stutters or has long pauses in speech

Thought patterns and logic

  • Seems to respond to unusual voices or “sees things”
  • Expresses racing, disconnected thoughts
  • Expresses bizarre or unusual ideas

Remember that mental health concerns are unlike other performance-related issues, so your approach must be different. Whether you consult your human resources department or the corporate department first, it’s important to gather opinions of experts before doing anything rash. As a team leader, you must have a plan that is win-win for your employee and your company. 

MindNation is an innovative mental health and well-being company that partners with like-minded organizations for happier, healthier, and more productive employees. Its comprehensive need-based program is based on each individual’s Well-being Capital © (a system that studies the Physical, Emotional, Mental, Social, and Cultural dimensions of well-being) to ensure that services provided suit each organization’s unique requirements and objectives. Drop us a line at [email protected] if you want to know more about our products and services. 

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

Categories
Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Work in the New Normal

5 Ways Managers Can Care For Their Mental Health

Take care of your wellbeing first so that you can provide care and support for your team members and subordinates

Work is inherently stressful, but working in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought on unprecedented pressures in the workplace. 

“Uncertainty breeds anxiety, and we are living in uncertain times. Between rising numbers of Covid-19 cases, questions about whether or not to reopen economies and businesses, unprecedented months-long lockdown measures, and the economic fallout of the pandemic, we don’t know what will come next. And that’s taking a toll on our mental health, including at work,” says Monique Ong, founder of MindNation, a mental health and wellbeing company. 

It’s not just the rank-and-file who are feeling the strain; even workplace leaders are bearing the brunt of isolation, loss of work-home boundaries, and work overload that leads to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety. This is concerning because according to a 2015 article by Canadian Business, “even sub-clinical levels of depression are enough to detract from transformational leadership.” The article adds: “The negative effects on leadership go further: Both sub-clinical levels of depression and anxiety are linked with higher levels of abusive supervision.” 

If you are an executive or manager, it’s important that you take care of your mental health first, not just because it affects your leadership but also because it sets the tone for the rest of the team’s wellbeing. “It’s much like the rule in an airplane about putting in your own oxygen mask first before assisting others; you have to take care of yourself so you can do the same for everyone else,” says Monique. 

Here are some ways you can improve your mental health: 

  1. Know the difference between the things you can control and those that you cannot. “When you focus too much on what you can’t control (i.e. difficult co-workers or the neverending piles of paperwork) you take energy and attention away from the things that you CAN control (i.e. how you respond to the co-worker or how you manage your time),” points out Monique. “This makes us less effective and potentially leads to the outcomes we fear the most, such as arguments with the colleague or not achieving work-life balance.”

So the next time you find yourself worrying or feeling uncertain about a particular area of your life, try using the questions below to clarify where you have control, where you don’t, and how to focus on what matters: 

  1. Think of an ongoing unresolved situation in your life. Write a brief outline of the facts and why it feels unresolved for you.
  2.  What can you control in this situation? Make a list.
  3. What can’t you control in this situation? Make a list.
  4. Be honest with yourself — on which of the above things are you spending most of your energy and attention right now?
  5. How can you focus more on the things you can control? What would that look like?

“Once you know that you are doing as much as you reasonably can to create a healthy happy space in your mind, the more at peace you will feel about all the variables outside of your control,” says Monique. “This does not mean that you are free from nerves or anxiety, but that input and effort can give you deeper self-trust and veer away from feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.” 

2. Reframe your thinking. This means identifying your negative and unhelpful thoughts and replacing them with more positive or adaptive ones.Examples of negative thoughts include:

  1. Limiting beliefs, i.e. “I am not good enough to head this project”
  2. When you wish that something acceptable were better a.k.a the fear of missing out “

The next time a negative thought enters your head, replace them with positive ones by:

  1. Using milder wording. “I hate that guy” will only make your anger worsen; “I’m not a fan of that guy” sounds better.
  2. Ask yourself ‘What can I learn from this?’” This way, every obstacle becomes a learning opportunity.

3. Practice self-compassion. This means being understanding towards yourself during times that you feel inadequate, unsuccessful, or are suffering. Instead of beating yourself up with self-criticism, treat yourself gently and recognize that you are only human. “Nobody is perfect; all humans suffer and make mistakes, so self-compassion means recognizing that problems and trials are things that everyone in the world goes through and not just you alone,” says Monique.

4. Prioritize self-care. Focus on yourself and do activities that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional health. “It seems easy and simple, but it’s the first thing that people forget about when they become busy,” reminds Minique. “Practicing proper self-care habits will keep you from reaching the point of exhaustion, helping you function normally under stress, and refocus to help you perform better.”

5. Seek help. “The truth is we’re all going to struggle at some point. We’re going to have moments when we can’t find the strength to stand, or when we just can’t do it alone. And in those moments are when we have to know that it’s okay to lean on others. It’s okay to seek assistance and love outside of ourselves,” says Monique. “Strength does not always have to come from your body. It can come from surrounding yourself with people who love you, and from people and resources outside of your expertise.” If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed, a good place to start to get help would be MindNation’s 24/7 chat helpline, which is available for FREE on FB Messenger. All conversations are kept secure and confidential, and the staff is trained to ease anxieties. 

Stay Afloat!

By taking care of your own mental health, you become a more effective, empathetic, and perceptive leader and by extension create happier, healthier, and more productive teams. 

Fore more information about MindNation’s products and services, visit www.themindnation.com

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation