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Supporting the Mental Health of Employees

13th May 2019

Images of pebbles with dream, courage, inspire and harmony written on them - promoting mental healthOur thoughts turn to mental wellbeing this week, as the Mental Health Foundation hosts its annual Mental Health Awareness Week. To mark the occasion, CXK’s HR Manager, Beth Raby, tells us all about what the charity is doing to support the wellbeing of its staff.

Why is mental health support in the workplace important?

When we think about our physical health, there’s a place for keeping ourselves fit and a place for getting appropriate help as early as possible so we can get better. We recognise that this also must be the case for mental health.

Mental health is the way we think and feel about our ability to deal with ups and downs, so it’s vital that this is addressed in the workplace, where ups and downs are inevitable.

When we enjoy good mental health, we have a sense of purpose and direction, the energy to do the things we want to do, and the ability to deal with the challenges that happen in our lives. Staff who enjoy good mental health are best equipped to make the most of their potential, to cope with what work and life throws at them, and to play a full part not only in work, but also in their personal lives.

A person’s mental health doesn’t always stay the same – it can fluctuate as circumstances change and as individuals move through different stages in their lives. So it’s vital that as an employer we support our staff through those transitions, in exactly the same way that we would support them if they were experiencing physical ill health.

What measures is CXK taking to support employees with their mental health?

Currently we offer support via occupational health, Dover Counselling and through line management support.

After a recent review of the well-being services we offer to employees, we recognised that there was even more we could be doing to promote the positive mental wellbeing of our staff, and as a result we’re now committed to the following:

• Training 5 Designated Mental Health First Aiders.
• Training all line managers to be Mental Health Aware, to ensure that they are in the best position to support their staff.
• Signing up to Health Assured, an Employee Assistance Programme which gives employees access to a range of services including support for stress and anxiety, family issues and bereavement. This is a completely confidential service that will be available to both employees and their immediate family. Support can be provided face-to-face, online or via the telephone.
• Signing the ‘Time to Change’ Employer Pledge which demonstrates our commitment to change how we think and act about mental health in the workplace and make sure that employees who are facing these problems feel supported.

How does supporting employees with their mental health benefit CXK?

By having our support if they need it, our employees will be happier and more productive, and will be able to perform their best. This will give them job satisfaction, which will optimise staff retention; and that can only be good for our organisation. A happy, well-supported staff team will be able to provide the very best service and support to our beneficiaries.

What advice would you give to anyone who may be afraid to disclose a mental health issue to their employer?

Remember you are not alone. One in three people have experienced mental health problems while in employment but with the right support many people can balance their health with the demands of a job.

It’s your choice – disclosure of mental health issues at work is a personal choice, and you can say as much or as little as you want. If you need more support, being open can help you get it.

If you feel comfortable disclosing your mental health issue, my advice would be to request a one-to-one meeting with your manager. This will allow you some private time where you can discuss your mental health, how it relates to your work, and what might help you manage your health so you can perform well.

You are the expert when it comes to what you need. You should discuss with your manager what could be changed to help support you during this time, and agree a time to meet again to discuss whether things have improved as a result of those changes. If you’re not sure what might help, try small experimental steps, and make a note of whether they help or not.

CXK provides Emotional Wellbeing counselling services to schools and colleges throughout Kent, helping to build emotional resilience and coping skills in children and young people. 

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