Having mental health and wellbeing “champions” in your workplace can be a great way to create and embed a culture of wellbeing at work.
This can help to reduce employee absenteeism and create happier, more productive employees over time.
Depending on the size of your organisation, you may even want to consider having a mental health champion or mental health advocate for each department. This will help to ensure there are no cultural divides across teams.
In this blog, we’re going to cover 7 important things to bear in mind if you’re looking to more actively promote mental health & wellbeing at work.
What is a mental health champion in the workplace?
To put it simply, a workplace mental health champion is someone who takes action to raise awareness of mental health at work. Over time, this can help to reduce employee absenteeism and create happier, more productive employees.
Remember that everyone moves at their own pace
Opening up about mental health concerns/challenges can be incredibly scary for some people.
Make sure that you’re not making anyone feel pressured into changing and that you remain patient throughout.
If you’ve recently rolled out a number of mental health initiatives across your company, bear in mind that wide-spread adoption may take time.
If you don’t get the initial response you were hoping for, don’t give up!
Instead, keep leading by example, and reminding people through your actions that it’s okay to seek help or look for support.
Assign roles and responsibilities around mental health
Whether you’re looking to become a mental health champion yourself, or you have someone else in mind for the job - clearly defining what this role means can help with its effectiveness.
Set clear activities/responsibilities in place, such as holding regular events or even just reminding other team members of the support available to them.
It’s also worth creating measurable targets such as an increase in the adoption of mental health related benefits/perks.
Look after your own mental health at work
There’s a reason the cabin crew tell passengers to put on your own mask before helping others...
If you’re struggling yourself, you won’t be much help to anyone!
Before taking on additional responsibilities, make sure you have the support and mental space you need in order to best serve others.
Take the time to look after yourself and ensure management knows about what you’re doing so your workload can be effectively managed.
This will also help you lead by example and become a north star for colleagues.
Become a great listener
One of the most powerful skills we can learn is the skill of listening.
Not simply waiting to respond, but actually listening to what somebody else is really saying.
This will allow you to identify colleagues who may be struggling and let them know you’re there to support them.
This might also involve just paying closer attention to members of the team.
For example, if somebody you know isn’t being their usual self, or something doesn’t feel quite right with them, it probably isn’t.
Maybe they’ve recently started turning up late and they’re being unusually quiet or withdrawn…
Obviously, this doesn’t give you permission to probe into their personal lives, but sometimes, just letting somebody know you care, is enough to support them.
Get familiar with the mental health support options available at work
If your company has recently started offering mental health benefits, be sure to familarise yourself with these so that you can promote them to colleagues.
A lot of people don’t even realise the benefits available to them at work, so it’s worth making an effort to remind people of what’s on offer.
Even if your company doesn’t offer any “mental health benefits” as such, it’s worth brushing up on your knowledge of what’s out there!
For example, companies like BetterHelp offer quick and accessible therapy sessions, either online or over the phone.
Maybe you’ve even read a great book recently, or been to a meditation class that really helped you personally…
Just sharing those experiences with others can help people to feel more comfortable about exploring such activities for themselves.
Don’t underestimate the impact of financial wellbeing
Financial wellbeing is often overlooked when it comes to mental health discussions, but money issues can be a major cause of stress and anxiety.
As such, helping employees better manage their money can really help to reduce this!
PayCaptain is the first payroll software of its kind to offer built-in financial wellbeing support to employees.
This kind of support can subsequently help to reduce money-related stress, and boost levels of happiness and productivity at work.
And whilst all information is completely anonymous, employers will have visibility over the number of employees using the app which can also help with reporting.
Finally, be an example for others
Remember, being a mental health advocate at work doesn’t mean you should always be happy!
In fact, quite the contrary - it’s about reminding others that it’s okay not to be.
And then reminding them of the support available if they do find themselves in a challenging place.