Cultural stigma around mental health in the UK negatively impacts individuals in their personal lives and at work.
It’s widely accepted that there is a cultural stigma around mental health in the UK. This negatively impacts the life quality and productivity of any and all team members you have who may suffer from mental health problems - whether you know about it or not.
It’s impossible to leave mental health outside the door
In 2020 we all know that it’s impossible to bring only half of yourself to work everyday, to leave your mental health at the door when you arrive. Everyone working in an HR role, as well as hopefully all founders know that more needs to be done to support mental health in the workplace. It’s essential to the mental wellbeing and therefore performance ability of your team and business. There needs to be a real shift away from the cultural stigma that surrounds mental health. Things need to change.
Employers need to be a part of the de-stigmatisation process
In the UK, we spend ⅓ of our waking lives at work. So it’s essential that employers begin to take action and think about how they support the mental health of their employees. Therapy at work is a good initiative to think about. It provides support to everyone in a business, at all levels. Companies such as The Circle Line can facilitate therapy in the workplace, and provide a needed mental lifeline for team members and leaders alike.
1) There are hidden costs of things like presenteeism which are hard to measure
As many HR professionals are aware, there are hidden costs of poor mental health in the workplace. Presenteeism, diminished problem solving abilities and teamwork skills on a practical level are just a few of the negative implications of a lack of mental health support at work.
2) There are knock-on effects such as lack of productivity and innovation
Innovation and productivity are the products of creativity and mental wellbeing. If you and your team are unable to gain clarity of mind, those two key elements of high performance are put at risk.
It’s near impossible to put a qualitative measure on vital elements of a successful business and a thriving team. But strong teamwork, clarity of mind, drive and innovation are all key to the strength of your team and business. All of these things can be fostered by providing therapy in the workplace, or through other means of supporting mental health within the business.
3) Life and work are interconnected. If you’re struggling in one, you’re struggling in the other
Life and work are interconnected. If you’re struggling in one, you’re struggling in the other. It’s about ingrained habits in all of us that need to be faced and tackled to release more of ourselves in a healthy and beneficial way. It’s a positive process, something that can benefit everyone in the business at every level.
4) It benefits everyone in the business at every level
Anyone at any level of your business could be struggling with their mental health. Therapy for the whole company is a way of helping anyone who is ready and in need of professional support.
What therapy can help your team with:
- Managing any mental health struggles they may face
- Gaining clarity and be able to act on motivation to perform the best that they can in their roles and beyond.
By facilitating your team with therapy at work, they are more likely to gain clarity and be able to act on motivation to perform the best that they can in their roles and beyond. With the supportive guidance of a therapist, your team will be better equipped to manage any mental health struggles they face. They’ll gain clarity and be able to act on motivation to perform the best they can in their roles and beyond.
But what if you can’t afford therapy for your whole team?
Develop a culture of open discussion, non-judgement and support
Many businesses, especially small companies may be unable to afford therapy for the whole team. That doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to support the mental health of your teams. A good place to start is to work on developing a company culture of open discussion, non-judgement and support.
How do you develop a company culture of open discussion, non-judgement and support?
1) Start talking and listening to people
The first step is to start talking and listening to people. Talk to managers about how teams work, how they are run and manage themselves - all of this goes towards creating a culture. By understanding how managers and team leaders view your culture currently, you can begin to think about how to steer it in the right direction. We took a big step by polling every team member, and eventually introducing ‘personal days’. You can read more about why and what the impact of them was here.
Those conversations are so important; it gives the individual one-on-one space to focus on themselves and their needs and experience, as well as their own development personally and within the company.
2) People in leadership positions should try lead by example
Have someone in a leadership position take the first step towards this. It breaks down the potentially toxic elements that having a hierarchy in a business can have on culture - especially when the people in leadership positions lead by example. It’s empowering to all when leaders take that initiative and show vulnerability in that way. No one should be required to share, but with a lot of hard work, you can nurture a culture where people feel comfortable to do so should they wish to.
A practical guide to evaluating your culture:
Below are the types of questions that bring psychology right into the heart of the workplace and are conversations we don’t often have with each other. Even if your business can’t offer therapy at work, or you don’t think you’re ready for therapy on a personal level, it’s important to start reading and start learning about the world of mental health and building culture at work. Start by asking yourself, and your leadership team to think about:
- How you work with your team
- What kind of personality you are
- How you relate to other people, the business and your team specifically
- What your communication style is
- Do you know the above things about your team members?