In the run up to World Mental Health Day on 10th October, XpertHR explores how employers can support the mental health of employees in their new briefing, Looking after your team’s mental health, and podcast,  where they address the mental health challenges arising from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to the charity, Mind, one in four people will experience a mental health condition each year[i]. The pandemic is likely to exacerbate this. A forecast by the Centre for Mental Health[ii] suggested that at least half a million more people in the UK may experience mental ill health as a result of COVID-19 in the next two years. Given these statistics it is very likely that line managers will manage an individual with a mental health issue, so they need the skills and understanding to support them.

Jeya Thiruchelvam, managing editor at XpertHR says, “Mental health in the workplace was on the agenda prior to COVID-19, but this year has been especially difficult for some. Many of us have had to adapt to working remotely over-night often in less than ideal spaces while also juggling family commitments. This is likely to continue well into next year given the government’s recent U-turn on returning to the office.

“Also the impact of the pandemic on every aspect of our daily lives from job security to our ability to be close to friends and family is placing our mental health under huge strain. Now more than ever line managers need practical guidance to help employees who may be struggling.”

XpertHR’s briefing explores how good and poor mental health can look different on different people and offers advice for spotting the early warning signs of a mental health problem and how managers can start a conversation about mental health with an employee, including what to do before, during and after the conversation.

XpertHR offers the following tips for managers:

 

  • Have regular one-to-one catch-ups and weekly check-ins with your team to identify potential issues early, before they develop into more serious problems. Do these virtually with remote workers.

 

  • Be aware of the potential early warning signs of poor mental health include feeling tired, sleeping poorly, having a dishevelled appearance, mood swings, loss of confidence and motivation, struggling to absorb information, feeling aggressive and or/tearful, and contributing less to team meetings, activities and tasks.

 

  • Notice any changes in your team members; people do not change without a reason. It may not be due to their mental health but if you notice a change in someone, there will be a reason for it, so speak to them.

 

  • If you are concerned that someone is displaying early warning signs of poor mental health, have a conversation with them sooner rather than later. Timing is critical; do not wait for the individual to display several warning signs.

 

  • When you are having a sensitive conversation around an employee’s mental health be accepting, genuine and empathetic.

 

  • Once you have had the conversation think about what comes next. Your next steps will be shaped by what you learned during the conversation. What is going to happen as a result of the conversation?

 

  • Direct individuals to sources of support within the organisation (HR, occupation health, EAPs, private GP or health screening) or externally (GPs, counselling services, family/friends, charities)

 

Jeya Thiruchelvam adds, “Just like our physical health, mental health is fluid and can change from day to day, week to week. Line managers will need to adapt their support to suit the evolving situation and be even more on the ball when spotting signs with many workers still working at home.”

To read XpertHR’s briefing, ‘Looking after your team’s mental health’ in full, click here.

To listen to the podcast: ‘How to encourage mental health wellbeing among employees’ with Richard Martin, from the employment relations and HR training provider Byrne Dean, discussing managing mental health wellbeing, click here.

To listen to the Coronavirus and your workforce webinar: ‘Supporting employees’ mental health’ with Dr. Barbara Mariposa, a medical doctor with a background in psychiatry and public health, click here.

For more information on XpertHR visit: www.xperthr.co.uk

[i] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/statistics-and-facts-about-mental-health/how-common-are-mental-health-problems/#.XSSB_bxKi1s

[ii] https://www.centreformentalhealth.org.uk/news/least-half-million-more-people-uk-may-experience-mental-ill-health-result-covid-19-says-first-forecast-centre-mental-health

By Editor