With mental health moving to the top of the political agenda as an issue of social justice, there is no mistaking the impact rippling out across all our lives. But with only just over half of the workforce saying they feel comfortable talking about mental health issues like depression and anxiety at work, it’s apparent that more needs to be done by companies to create a more open-minded and supportive culture.

Here at PUSH, we want employees to thrive in all aspects of life. We understand the importance of our psychological and social well-being; how we think and feel determines how we handle stress, make choices and relate to others.

Openness in the Workplace

That’s why we have created a bespoke programme that focuses on mental health: Openness in the Workplace. It includes a practical session, designed to provide people with tangible tools and techniques they can put to use immediately to help themselves and others to create an inclusive culture.

We recently delivered this session for our clients over at Sainsbury’s. We were thrilled to receive the feedback from the session, with reviews averaging a score of 4.9 out of 5 and with 100% of the scores graded as good or excellent.

As Cate Murden, PUSH Founder and co-facilitator of the programme says:

[mkd_blockquote text=”“Everyone has ‘mental health’, this isn’t about 1 in 4 it’s about 1 in 1. Your mental health is on a spectrum and anyone, at any point, is at a point on it. The role of our programmes is to help people understand themselves better and give them the tools to manage where ever they might be on that spectrum”” title_tag=”h2″ width=””]

Too many people with mental health issues are suffering in silence at work as they feel talking upon the subject will be met with prejudice discrimination.  But with almost a third (31%) of the workforce being formally diagnosed with a mental health issue (Mental Health at Work Report 2017) that’s a big chunk of the workforce who are not talking about it.

So, how do we move to a more open-minded culture and create new ways of working so that people can find ways to talk about what really matters?

What if we gave our mental health the same priority as our physical health?

By simply acknowledging this focus we would start the shift of negative perception and give ourselves the permission to attend to our emotional wellbeing as much as our core stability.

Some companies are starting to recognise the urgency and have good practices in place, but the vast majority could be doing more to empower their workforce.  There is a need to offer greater support at work, to be more open with conversations with ourselves and others and we all need to take on the responsibility of simply looking out for each other.

There is power in simply asking if someone is ok – and then listening.

But breaking the silence and starting a conversation is just the beginning.  Knowing how to respond when approached by a colleague can be extremely difficult. It’s important to provide employees, especially line managers, with clarity on the right language to use and, above all, how to stay authentic.

This is where working with professional coaches can genuinely empower employees and make a difference, putting in appropriate resources and training to help provide the tools to deal with issues surrounding mental health. And being able to recognise the signs and know what support to offer teammates will help build confidence while understanding boundaries, helping individuals manage their own wellbeing.

Overall, to work towards an open culture, it’s time to normalise the conversation around mental health, ditch the stigma and lead by example. Prevention is better than cure, so it’s not only empowering staff with the relevant tools to deal specifically with issues around mental health but also putting in place practices to create a work environment that promotes all-around positive wellbeing for workers.

The PUSH team is passionate about empowering people, teams and companies to create open-minded cultures. Our team is trained Mental Health First Aiders, we mix this grounding with our own bespoke mental health programme that offers a well-rounded solution, arming your workforce with the tools to embrace mental health and support each other.  Get in touch to find out more.