It’s official: today is the most depressing day of the year.  It seems the combination of post-Christmas blues, cold dark nights and the arrival of unpaid credit card bills gives this unfortunate day its gloomy title!

For most of us, Blue Monday passes quickly and without too much notice.  But how can you tell the difference between a passing gloomy day and the onset of a more serious mental health problem in your workplace?

Poor mental health is one of the biggest issues faced by employers today with over 70 million working days lost each year.

Here are some tips on encouraging good mental health and how to address problems before they escalate.

Break the taboo from the top down

According to research, two-thirds of employees feel scared, embarrassed or simply unable to talk about mental health concerns with their employers.

Good mental health should be a priority for any business and implementing an open and caring approach needs to come from the top down.  Encourage your senior team to speak out on the issue, even drawing on their own experience if it’s appropriate.

Develop a mental health policy that reassures employees about the well-being.  Create a culture of openness and encourage people to talk about their mental health, which will encourage your employees to feel confident to talk about their own mental health.

Communicate your policies

What can you offer in terms of support and flexibility?  Once you are clear, use staff newsletters and introduce discussions about mental health in team meetings to check in on how employees are and how they would rate their stress levels. Conducting regular surveys to take a check on wellbeing and feeding back results and progress to your employees gives a clear message that you take the subject of mental health seriously.

Enable your managers

Managers are usually in a unique place to recognise distress amongst their direct reports.  Many find it difficult to talk for fear of saying the wrong thing or lack confidence to start a conversation.  The Mental Health Foundation coordinates ‘Tea and Talk’ – an initiative designed to create conversations on mental health in the workplace.  A Tea and Talk session is a great way to start a conversation in your workplace about what mental health means, and opens up debate about how organisations can support their employees.

Review job descriptions

Make sure that work plans and job descriptions are clear and realistic – if they are not, this could contribute towards the mental distress of your employees.  Make sure they are reviewed regularly with every employee, focusing on the positive impact of their efforts.

You don’t need to be an expert

No one expects you to be an expert in mental health or be a therapist – an open door policy and an understanding culture gives the best opportunity to create an open culture where employees are confident to take their concerns to their managers to enable early intervention.

If you need support to create an ongoing Mental Health strategy for your business, we can help.  Give us a call on 01256 328 428 and we will talk through how we can support you.