Let’s talk about mental health

Mental health issues can affect anyone at any stage of their lives, with 1 in 4 people being affected annually. In an office of 40, that’s 10 people struggling every year. It’s becoming increasingly clear that as employers, we need to take responsibility and pay more attention to the mental and physical well-being of our people. At ISL, we’re proud to be recognised as a ‘Happy Workplace’ and a 2018 Best Place to Work. For us, part of these titles means supporting our employees with both their mental and physical health.

We’re not experts and we still have a lot to learn about supporting our employees’ health, but we’ve learnt that taking small steps and making simple changes day to day can have a big impact.

In light of Mental Health Awareness Day earlier this week, we wanted to share some of the simple ideas we’ve implemented over the last year that have made the world of difference to our company. If every employer made just a few small changes to how they support mental health, we’d be a step closer to creating environments where people feel comfortable speaking out.

1. An Open Door

Opportunities for everyone to have regular 1:1 conversations with Directors, Team Leaders or peers. We introduced bi – monthly director drop in sessions. Our Director spends a half day working from a private room, door open, asking anyone who wants to talk to drop in. There is no topic agenda, just an opportunity to chat about whatever is on someone’s mind. Whether it’s related to work or personal life, giving employees an opportunity to talk about their mental health is crucial.

2. Happiness Head On

Let’s focus on how we feel, rather than how we’re performing. In our monthly 1:1’s we ask ‘on a scale of 1-10 how happy are you feeling at the moment?’; a simple question that encourages everyone to think about how they feel. Questions of this nature are a good starting point for opening up conversations about mental health.

3. Balance

Introducing flexible working, including home working options has encouraged a far greater work-life balance. Whether its knowing that you need to allow time to leave early for an appointment, have a day working at home and create a balance with your family life – flexible working can help people in managing their mental health. Finding a sustainable balance can go a long way in maintaining a healthy state of mind.

The ideas above are simple, and they don’t cost anything more than time. If we all make some simple changes to the way we support mental health in our businesses, we’ll be closer to creating environments where everyone feels comfortable opening up about mental health.