Spokesperson: Laura Benton, COO, Reassured
The vast majority of us know what it feels like to have some sort of mental health ‘issue’, whether that’s stress, anxiety, depression or a whole host of other conditions. I struggle to use the word ‘issue’ because I believe that everyone has something in relation to mental health and it is those who claim not to have any issues who are the lucky few, not the majority.
Research from Mind proves this theory, showing that as many as one in four people in the UK will experience some kind of mental health issue every year, with one in six experiencing issues such as anxiety and depression in any given week. In many cases, these issues understandably come into the workplace, either because they affect how people work or because the workplace environment exacerbates them. The impact of the pandemic has only made these issues more widespread too.
It is up to employers to do something about it. Awareness days like Blue Monday serve as a great reminder of these issues. Employers and employees alike use it as a reason to discuss mental health in the workplace and work out what can be done to break down the stigma so often associated with it. But every year this enthusiasm fades quickly, leaving no or very little impact on employees, and having made no lasting progress when it comes to workplace mental health. Indeed, nearly two-fifths of Brits still fear that opening up about a mental health problem at work would jeopardise their career.
If leaders wax lyrical about employee wellbeing every January or Blue Monday but fail to take practical steps to encourage and support their employees throughout the rest of the year, it can be hard for employees to see those acts as genuine. For people who suffer with mental health challenges it can be hard every day – so it should be important to employers every day as well.
Employers spend a lot of time talking about how to “solve” these “issues”, but mental health is not a problem that can be solved. If you have ever experienced metal health challenges yourself or spoken to someone who has, you know that the last thing people need is someone else telling them what they should do to make it “better”. This is not a problem to be solved, its something to be supported, and the starting point is simply for employers to start listening.
At Reassured, we work on the basis that everyone acts based on how they feel which is a core concept of emotional intelligence (EQ). Training staff in the practical application of emotional intelligence allows them to be much better managers, especially when it comes to mental health. One of the core skills of EQ is empathy, which is the ability to see and feel the situation from another person’s perspective. With a higher level of EQ, managers will have better emotional perception and management as well as a heightened understanding of how their words and actions impact others.
This isn’t just the right thing for the employees, it’s an extremely worthwhile investment for any business. Managers with high EQ have more engaged teams, lower employee turnover and higher performance metrics. All of these things translate directly to more profitability – it’s one of those rare “double wins” in business where employees benefit and so do the shareholders.
Leaders with emotional intelligence earn loyalty and breed happiness, fostering a more stable, productive workforce that is likely to weather uncertainty more effectively. With or without Blue Monday, employers that put these skills into practice will not only survive the challenges of the pandemic, but also continue to thrive for the next set of curveballs that may be just around the corner.
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