Four steps to address issues of mental health in the workplace
By Katherine White, HR Director, Wyboston Lakes Resort
This is Mental Health Awareness Week (13 -19 May), helping to place the spotlight on a major issue that affects 1 in 4 people at work and 1 in 3 in our sector, hospitality and events.
The horrendous scale of the issue has been only recently started to gain the attention that it truly deserves.
As an organisation which for several years has been taking steps to provide mental health support for our team, I’d like to share what we have learned in that time.
1. Train staff as Mental Health First Aiders
The first step that every organisation must take is to train a group of staff as Mental Health First Aiders who team members can confide in if they feel the need to do so. They are trained to identify the symptoms of potential mental health breakdown, to listen acutely and persuade those in difficulty that there is no shame in admitting that they have a problem and in starting to deal with it.
2. Communicate to staff that help is available to them
Once Mental Health First Aiders have been trained, the team must be made aware of who they are and given the confidence to know that they can talk to them completely confidentially at any time, and that they will gain support and help by doing so.
3. Educate managers to spot signs of team members who may need help
Here at Wyboston Lakes Resort we have had a small team of Mental Health First Aiders over the past few years, we are taking our next step. Working with Illuminate VR we are rolling out an Awareness Programme starting with the senior management team.
This will be followed by Awareness Workshops held for all managers so they can identify the signs that someone may need help and support them if need be. Once these workshops have been completed, we are training a further 10 people to become Mental Health First Aiders.
4. Treat mental health holistically with physical health within a wellness culture
In addition to supporting the team with their mental health we are working to establish a wellness culture within the business through the introduction of various different activities, learning bites and commitments which team members can get involved in.
By doing this we are hoping to support the team with their physical health and wellbeing as well as their mental health as they are all inter-connected. We are also looking at how we can raise awareness of how important it is to look after your own wellbeing whether that is mental or physical health or just encouraging a better work life balance.
Mental health is a undoubtedly major issue in this industry in particular. It’s great that the HBAA, one of our leading industry associations has embarked on a year-long campaign to address it with a series of activities. They include courses for Mental Health First Aiders and this week, a special event, of which we are one of the sponsors, with an impressive and inspiring keynote speaker Vikie Shanks to raise awareness and funds for more courses,
It is our responsibility as employers to ensure we provide a safe, healthy working environment for all of our team and support them in maintain their physical and mental health. The rising wave of publicity about mental health is very welcome.