Mental health disorders and the workplace have a difficult relationship, and it can be tricky to get the balance right. Being employed, whether full time or part time, can improve mental health, and provides people structure, self-worth, and a sense of purpose. However, when your workplace does not understand how to accommodate mental health problems, it can be really challenging. Particularly as mental illness is not visible, there is no cast, there are no crutches, and there is nothing on the outside to suggest anything is amiss. So it can even be problematic for management teams, if they cannot see that anything is wrong, they won’t necessarily be able to help.
This is why it is so essential to be mindful that mental illness is a big problem in the UK, and the chances are, someone you know is suffering with a mental illness like depression. Whether you have a mental illness or not, everyone needs a little extra support now and then, so it is important to have things in place to foster communication, openness, and team work. So, with that in mind, what can we do to help others who may be going through mental illness?
Arrange an office picnic at the local park.
Take group coffee breaks instead of all sitting alone, making time to spend together socialising is very important.
Exercise together – invite a yoga teacher to give a class in the office.
Have plants in the office – research has shown that having greenery around us promotes concentration, and reduces stress.
Create a board dedicated to mental health – display the resources people can use if they are suffering with mental illness (like charities, phone lines, and meditation apps), and leave space for colleagues to pin up anonymous positive comments. Something like this opens up the conversation around mental health, and makes it OK to talk about it.
Paint the office blue, as it is a calming colour which makes people feel less stressed.
Make sure you hold regular meetings – keeping communication going is extremely important and encourages team work.
Give people incentives – have a team member of the week, or have a competition to see who can do the most steps in a week – rewarding people is a great way to improve the mood of your colleagues.
The most important thing of all is to be supportive, understanding, and patient. If a member of staff tells you they are finding work difficult or stressful it is crucial to listen to them and make them feel that you are trying to help them.