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How to talk about mental health in the office

Posted by Natalie Runnerstrom on 5/7/19 9:49 AM

Serious conversations can be pretty uncomfortable to have in the office — this goes for both the employee and manager. However, it's never good to put these discussions off because it can further any problems someone may be experiencing. Let's dive into some best practices so you and your team can be fully equipped to approach these conversations with confidence.

mental health blog post

Educate the masses

Create an environment where your employees can reflect and consider any accommodations before their work starts to suffer. Prompt your workforce to consider their own work performance. This can be done by equipping your staff with the information they need on mental health. You can start with canned questions for your team:

  • Is your attendance slipping lately?
  • Are you meeting deadlines?
  • Is your workload overwhelming you?
  • Do you still feel connected to your friends at work?

nurse@300xThese are just a few questions that can push your workforce to explore their efforts in the office through self-reflection. This can make it easier for employees to approach their manager or supervisor to talk about any concerns they may have and which steps to take next. 

Education should also include access to professional mental health specialists. The company Snap supports workers who are growing their families by providing access to myriad medical professionals with the click of button. This is a service that can also extend to every employee, offering a variety of certified mental health professionals.

Whether you're just starting to implement this or you have it built into your onboarding process, it's good to revisit it every quarter to be up-to-date on supporting mental health in your office. 

Be an engaging manager

When you and your employee sit down to chat, make sure you're actually there for them. It might be awkward at first, but having a manager who's actually listening and asking appropriate questions can bring fluidity to the conversation. 

As a supervisor, noticing any differences in your team's performance you think could be due to any mental health issues is tricky. Use your one-on-one to bring up any outside or internal stressors that could be damaging someone's work. Do so casually — go over your typical schedule or check-ins in the one-on-one and allot some time to further the discussion by asking how everything is going. Begin with a simple question, "You seem a little off today, is everything alright?"

Just because you posed a question, doesn't mean you'll get an honest response. The good thing is that you opened a door of communication that might've been previously closed to your workers. Engaging with your team will create a happier workforce because they'll feel supported. 

This is a big deal in the modern office. The job market isn't just controlled by the employer anymore, and the little guys (and gals) are influencing the changes that businesses are going through.Millennials, and soon Gen Zers, want to work at a company that supports them, creating a two-way street of trust

Midday breaks

Offer breaks for your employees so they can get away from their desks and regroup. Our eyes weren't made to stare at screens for hours at a time, and doing so can cause eye soreness, headaches, and overall fatigue. There are so many benefits that come from being active — the more, the better! So suggest a walking meeting, encourage employees to take coffee runs, talk through a stressful project with a coworker away from your desks. 

sunny day graphic@300xSimply changing your location can decrease stress and anxiety. Weather isn't great? Have a 5-minute workout break! At TransitScreen we have #swolescreen 😏 where employees can join others to do a series of plank exercises and pushups. It gives your brain a break, gets your blood flowing, and is a proven practice to reduce stress.

All of these breaks are to be had within reason, and you can set a good example for new employees by making sure that your current workforce is upholding your company's standards. Mental health is important and should never be overlooked, especially in the office. We spend a majority of our adult lives where we work, and the corporate world is starting to realize what that really means.

Topics: Workplace