Take the first step towards a mentally healthy workplace

Everyone has mental health, in the same way that we all have physical health. At times we can struggle to maintain good physical health due to different reasons, such as being too busy and tired to fit in a trip to the gym, or to cook dinner so we order a takeaway. Similarly, we have to work at maintaining good mental health when certain factors might make this a challenge.

The workplace can often be an environment of high pressure and stress with impending deadlines and expectations of exceeding targets. This atmosphere can be challenging for people experiencing mental health difficulties and create barriers to accessing the right support from employers. Therefore, it is important for organisations to work to break down the barriers which prevent people from accessing the mental health and well-being support that they need.

Mindful Employer is a national initiative which provides businesses and organisations with easier access to information and support for staff who experience mental health difficulties. In Leeds there is a strong local network of employers, with over 400 organisations currently engaged with the network, who are supported by the local Mindful Employer Coordinator to share good practice in creating mentally healthy workplaces. The Leeds network is connected through a monthly newsletter, quarterly network events and the support of the local Coordinator.

In Leeds the network believes that good mental health in the workplace helps everyone, no matter what position they may be in within an organisation. Therefore, locally the 10 Steps Toolkit has been created to enable employers to embed better mental health awareness and support in their workplaces.

The 10 Step Toolkit, developed in Leeds by employers for employers, is a perfect starting point for organisations to embed good practice and keep the mental health and well-being conversation going. It is a free online resource designed to help employers develop ideas on creating positive working environments, supporting employee well-being and challenging stigma surrounding mentally ill health in the workplace. It provides suggested actions, case studies and links to resources which will help you to work towards achieving an open and positive culture towards mental health in your organisation. Many of the actions are good business practice backed up by an increased understanding of mental health in the workplace.

The 10 Steps are divided into three sections which encourage employers to focus on engaging staff on the issue of well-being in the workplace, educating your managers and wider workforce about mental health awareness and embedding good practice and the right support processes. This resource reinforces the importance of including staff from all levels of the organisation when creating and implementing your mental health and well-being strategy, the need for relevant training and having a clear zero tolerance approach to discrimination in the workplace.

It does pay to be positive about mental health at work and employers who get this right can expect to see reduced absenteeism, reduced presenteeism, better job retention and an enhanced reputation in their workplace.

For more information on implementing the 10 Steps Toolkit in your workplace get in touch with the Leeds based Mindful Employer Coordinator via mindfulemployer@leedsmind.org.uk

You can access the 10 Step Toolkit here: www.mindfulemployertensteps.co.uk


Martha Clowes, Mindful Employer Coordinator, WorkPlace Leeds