Why mental health awareness training is crucial for businesses
By Samantha Allen 22 May 2019
Mental health awareness is a term you hear more and more these days in the world of business, and that’s fantastic. It’s not a trendy buzzword, but rather a refreshing sign that people understand that health is crucial to the workforce.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Anxiety has been linked to many physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions. As people are waking up to this reality, there’s a growing need for training in this area. With the right awareness of mental health, you can harness this to build positive team morale, boost productivity, retain loyal team members and help your business to thrive and grow.
So what is mental health awareness?
Everyone at work experiences stresses and pressure from time to time. But everybody responds and copes differently to these stressors. Awareness of your own mental health is simply having the understanding to manage your external world and how you respond to it, particularly in your work environment. Although stress isn’t a mental health problem in itself, it can lead to depression and anxiety, which can also trigger physical health problems.
As I sit here and write this, I’m aware of my own mental health condition. The fact that I have an awareness of my own mental health while I’m working means I can control parts of my external environment to help me to cope with the pressures surrounding me. Of course, any pressure surrounding me is purely in my head - I’m not a weight-lifter or an astronaut so there is no physical pressure affecting me! But this mental pressure - the feeling of delivering and meeting people’s expectations, and carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders - can be harmful if it’s not managed well.
As well as awareness of your own mental health, it’s beneficial to understand how your work colleagues and others are coping. Being labelled a “wallflower” or “scaredy cat” can trivialize a very real mental health issue, such as generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety or panic disorder. Rather than treating the issue with the correct help, people are often made to feel like they simply have an annoying personality quirk which is overlooked rather than resolved.
How can mental health awareness at work help?
If you’re a leader or manager, it’s crucial that you understand mental health in order to manage your team members effectively. Too often, people slip up and joke about being “a bit OCD”, “losing your marbles”, or “going psycho”. While it may be said in jest, the consequences of not taking mental health issues seriously can be huge.
There are legal implications if you’re found to not be supporting employees with mental health conditions. For example, you may have an employee who isn’t performing well enough. Without realising, they’re actually suffering from an anxiety disorder and therefore struggle to work well in a busy work environment. Rather than take disciplinary action against them and risking unlawful discrimination, which is bad for everyone, you could understand how to help them perform better. Understanding their mental health condition will help you to create an ideal work environment to get the best out of your employees, and help them to overcome their struggles. Everyone wins.
What are the signs of mental health disorders at work?
If you’re a manager or leader, there are some common indicators that you could look out for:
- Are they making more mistakes than usual, or having trouble making decisions or concentrating?
- Are they more sensitive to criticism or seem more irritable than usual?
- Have they been increasingly absent, skipping lunch breaks or staying late?
- Do they seem constantly tired or suffering from an ongoing cold?
- Are they taking less care of their appearance or showing signs of excessive drinking?
If you spot any of these signs, they could be indicating that your colleagues have some mental health struggles.
What can you do to help manage mental health at work?
Depending on your lifestyle and job role, there are all sorts of things you can do to help your own mental health while at work. While I’m working at my desk and writing, I manage my own mental health by doing lots of little things that simply make me feel happier. Opening the blinds and letting the natural light in, sipping a cup of my favourite tea, positioning a plant in view of my desk, and having my favourite snack to hand. All extremely small actions that contribute to making a huge difference in my enjoyment whilst working.
When it comes to wellbeing, leaders and managers can lead by example. Encouraging staff members to leave the office on time and take a proper lunch break as well as frequent breaks from their desk can do wonders for wellbeing in the workplace.
Providing training on mental health awareness will make your team members feel more confident around the subject and highlight the policies and techniques you have in place to support them.
Benefits of mental health awareness training
With the right mental health awareness training you can:
- Understand how mental illness can affect a person's life
- Reduce the stigma of mental illness & encourage team members to open up
- Have confidence to help those who are suffering
- Recognise early signs and risks of mental illness
Types of training:
Mental health charity Mind offer training courses for anyone: https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/training-consultancy/courses-for-anyone/
Here at Go.Courses we offer specialist mental health awareness training day for HR and business professionals: https://go.courses/course/mental-health-awareness-training-day
Aside from mental health awareness training, there can be huge benefits to providing training in general for your team. Whether you work in sales, HR, software or database management, increasing your team members’ knowledge and skillset will make them feel good. Investing in people makes them feel valued, and they will become an even greater asset to your business.
If you think you or your team members would benefit from training in mental health awareness or any other business skill, get in touch today.
You can browse our instructor-led courses at a variety of locations in the UK and Europe, or we can come to your own office to deliver your training to groups of all sizes.