Mental Health has been discussed publicly more and more over the last few years, even more so currently. It’s about time. The conversation has been long overdue.
But, can I just say, Mental Health is not a marketing or PR exercise.
The cynic in me can’t help but roll my eyes at the videos and posts from businesses on social media who preach how important Mental Health is to them and their business. The reason my eyes roll, is that you only see these videos and posts when there is a national Mental Health day or week. And once it’s over, they put the PR pack away until the next one. It’s almost as if the marketing team have the days marked in their calendars.
I did say I was cynical.
At least the conversation is happening though, that’s a start, it just needs to become genuine and not because there is a # opportunity. And the time for it to become genuine is now.
For those that are able to, people are going back to work, for some of those, this will be both welcome and unwelcome in equal measures. Even those that may have laughed off Mental Health issues previously have likely experienced some form of anxiety or depression in the last few months, which would be a whole new experience for them.
Businesses need to be doing more
We spend most of our week at work, and for those who will be going back to the ‘office’, will be spending more time at work than with their families, flatmates and friends. And there is nothing worse than spending most of your time in an environment that you do not feel mentally safe in. Work, Depression and Anxiety go hand in hand.
Now, you may be a Business Owner or Director reading this with confidence that your staff feel mentally safe because you have policies in place. But, if you do not have the culture, your policies are worthless.
Polices do not create culture, culture creates policies.
You can sit with HR and have as many meetings as you like and create countless policies, but if you do not have the culture to begin with, then believe me when I say, your staff will not and do not believe in your policies or you to keep them mentally safe.
Ask yourself the following questions:
· Do you publicly shut down any stigma or derogatory comments related to Mental Health issues?
· Do you have a Mental Health sick leave policy?
· Do you think your staff are even honest about taking time off for Mental Health issues?
· Do you run an open-door culture when it comes to Mental Health?
· Do you have publicly displayed resources for helplines etc? Whether it is posters up on the wall, on the company website or in the employee handbook?
· Do you have regular open conversations about Mental Health issues at work? Whether in groups or in 1-2-1’s.
· Have you identified the areas of your business and parts of the job that could cause Mental Health issues?
· Do you only talk or post about Mental Health when there is a national day or week?
Those questions may have been hard for you to answer, which is the point. And if they were, if they were a bit of an eye opener, then it is time to rip up those dusty old policies, if any, and get working on creating the culture. Your people will not feel safe because you have policies, they will feel safe if you have the culture.
It will not happen overnight, but start having some open conversations, talk about the stresses the job brings, the anxieties it may cause. Ask for opinions, ask for suggestions, run anonymous surveys, involve your people.
Just get talking.
Your policies should then come organically from the culture you create.
If you feel that you could use outside help on creating the right culture and making your staff feel more comfortable in having these conversations then please reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org