Mental health or physical health: What's more important?

Mental health or physical health: What's more important?
Alastair Barrett
Alastair BarrettWhat No Safety Services Ltd

Posted: Fri 5th Jan 2024

Mental health in the workplace is becoming more widely understood and that’s why HSE’s spot checks include questions on how businesses address work-related stress, and is a top priority for employers.

The HSE advises that mental health should be just as important as physical health in the workplace – risks to both must be equally considered. Training employers to recognise and address issues of mental health is vital and will help to support employees in coming forward and talking openly.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) released a helpful guide to assist in engaging employees in discussions about managing stress and wellbeing. It includes the following tips:

Regular check-ins with staff

By providing a designated time for employees to raise questions or concerns, you are showing your commitment to them. This will help prevent issues from escalating by catching them sooner.

A worker may feel awkward in bringing up a seemingly small issue and may not wish to book a meeting specifically for it – but if you have regular check-ins where time is available for them to speak freely, there is an opportunity to mention these smaller concerns and address them before they become bigger.

Open communication about the possibility of stress or mental health issues

Transparency and honesty help to reduce feelings of isolation and make it easier for individuals to ask for support. When we feel alone in our emotions, we tend to turn even further inward – at a point when we most need to reach out.

Involving workers in stress risk assessments

This will help identify potential issues and solutions that may not have been recognised otherwise. By involving your employees in these core evaluations, you can gain wider insight and navigate towards solutions sooner.

Keeping employees informed to help them feel involved and reassured

Change can be stressful for many but sharing information about the future can alleviate concerns and encourage collaboration.

Transparency about what issues are facing the business and why you are making the decisions that affect your employees will create a stronger feeling of trust in your company.

Encouraging breaks

It is important to discuss fatigue with employees to help prioritise their health. Remind staff to take their annual leave and set boundaries around working hours to prevent burnout.

If employees feel they cannot take time away without it causing more stress in the long term (for example, due to not having adequate support at work to manage the workload while they are gone), they will eventually become overwhelmed.

Ensure your employees know, you value them as much as you value their work.

Mental Health in the Workplace course

Not sure where to start in your workplace? Our Mental Health in the Workplace two-day course can help you get on track with understanding and supporting your staff. On successful completion, participants receive a CPD-certified qualification which is valid for three years.

The course includes:

  • Understanding mental health and related health problems

  • Recognising the signs and symptoms of anxiety, phobias, depression, bipolar and schizophrenia

  • Legislation and your responsibilities in the workplace under mental health

  • How to promote a healthy workplace

  • Why mental health is not discussed at work

  • How to recognise a problem and support an employee with mental health-related problems

  • The impact on the workplace of unidentified mental health problems

  • How to implement an action plan to promote the recovery of mental ill health

Relevant resources

Alastair Barrett
Alastair BarrettWhat No Safety Services Ltd

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