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Reducing mental health stigma in the workplace

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How can we normalise mental health issues in the workplace?

We live in changing times and although this can be daunting for some, the positive message is that in this increasingly information rich age there are many people who are becoming more and more confident, knowledgeable and open-minded about mental wellbeing.

Statistically, 1 in 4 people each year will encounter a mental health problem. When you think about this in terms of friends, loved ones and colleagues, almost all of us will at some point be affected in some way by mental health, whether first-hand or second. 

By the very nature of mental health and wellbeing – being concerned with people at all ends of the spectrum and undergoing personal change on a daily basis –  there is always more we can learn in terms of understanding the issue and being ready to offer support. 

Below are ways in which we are looking to better the mental health and wellbeing of our people:

Wellbeing

Every member of staff is given a wellbeing hour as part of their paid working week where they can undertake an activity that promotes their wellbeing. It sends out a clear message that mental health matters is a normal part of their working life. Staff tend to use this well-being hour for activities such as exercise, practicing mindfulness, or going for walks with colleagues.

Asset-based thinking

The opposites of stigma can include approval, respect and praise. As an organisation, people typically contact us at points of crisis. We know that we get better outcomes for our service users if we are able to help them identify their assets, the things that they do well. This also translates to staff, and we feel that at any company or organisation, providing regular positive feedback and helping employees recognise which areas they are progressing is key to combatting stress and stigma.

Proactivity

Sometimes relationships breakdown and misunderstandings occur. Something any company or organisation should always remember the importance of is providing proactive solutions, as opposed to the reactive solution of simply disciplining staff. 

While we don’t claim to have solved the problems of mental health, stress and stigma in the workplace through these solutions, we have seen a great difference to staff, and the workplace in general.

Sarah James

By Sarah James

Sarah is the senior HR business partner at social care charity Change, Grow, Live (CGL). Sarah leads the HR function at CGL.

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