Rose Muthoni @rosemuthoniN
October 10, the world commemorated World Mental Health Day themed; Young people and mental health in a changing world. Last year, the day was dedicated to mental health in the workplace.
Even as this happens, it is critical to appreciate that today’s ever-increasing pressure on you as boss and your employees as well, could lead to mental health issues. It is therefore important to note that some of the employees or bosses you work with might be dealing with minor mental ailments.
Mental illness does not discriminate, no matter how to put together or glamorous someone appears, they might be going through struggles in their personal life.
As the stewards of your ships, this is a matter you cannot afford to ignore: not just for yourselves, but those under you as well. In Kenya, it is estimated that one in four people who visit health facilities suffers from mental illness.
Great leaders identify talent and create a good environment for them to thrive in. I believe every business should take time out and talk about mental illness among employees. This should include talking candidly about their mental health and ensure treatment is provided as soon as possible.
As a business owner, you need to be empathetic to what your employees are going through both at work and outside, and be prepared to extend help whenever they need it. Here are steps you can take to enhance mental health awareness in your company.
To develop awareness around mental health in the workplace, you must come up with effective policies, whereby workers must be open enough to talk about their challenges.
For that to happen, you must build a transparent company. Create an environment where mental issues are discussed openly and shared widely. Hold sessions and open the dialogue with your team.
If you are facing a mental problem, share it with them. Make it known that no one will be punished for struggles in their lives. You have to foster an environment that encourages your employees to speak freely.
Have your employees’ backs
With the statistic surrounding mental illnesses, it is not a matter of if your employees will need support, it is a matter of when.
After establishing transparency, make sure that your team knows that if they are open about mental health, you will have their backs. Once the conversation has started, understand how you can help them, learn what they need and strategies how to help them when the time comes.
If they need time off, engineer an open policy on requesting leave. If they need support from a medical specialist, ensure your health policies are tailored to suit those needs. Flexitime should also be encouraged just in case your employee needs a timeout, but while still working remotely at home.
Make your office a safe place
People spend a quarter to a third of their lives at work. Make sure that time does not feel like torture. I understand that some jobs are quite taxing but the environment does not have to be.
Employees spend anywhere from a quarter to a third of their lives at work. Make sure your workplace is the kind that your teams look forward to every morning. Sometimes it is as simple as being a nice boss.
Tackle challenges in a humane manner instead of shouting their ears off. It matters so much when you’re kind to people, so make that a part of your company’s culture, on every level.
Just because you are the boss does not mean that you will not need help when you have a mental breakdown. If you have any of this challenges, make sure you take care of your self. By extension, if you have ever experienced mental illness, you will be more empathetic to your team.
That does not mean that you are equipped to deal with it. Partner with other organisations like gyms and spas where your employees can unwind and relax at subsidised rates. Getting the services of a counsellor especially when the job is stressful will go a long way in keeping your employees health in check.