Preventive Psychology: Keeping your People Mentally Fit

What can workplaces do to support mental health? It requires a two-pronged approach: one, to reduce risk factors, and two, to help employees be more resilient and to foster a culture of openness and support.

This must be combined with the understanding that the world is changing, and that there may be additional elements of uncertainty in an employee’s day-to-day life. Signs that might once have been symptomatic of a “poor performer” could today be indicative of a deeper problem.

What are some of the signs that someone could be struggling with their mental health? According to Health Direct:

  • Feeling anxious or worried : Employees may be complaining more frequently about their work, may be avoiding work that they feel particularly sensitive about, or may be asking for consultations and second opinions more often. Anxiety and worry can manifest in many ways to an employer, and an employer may need to be understanding with the employee, or take some of their work off their plate.
  • Feeling depressed or unhappy : Employees may start calling out sick more frequently or may seem apathetic and unavailable when they are present. They may have an attitude that “nothing matters.” Without context, this might appear to be poor performance. Employers may need to be more understanding of poor employee performance and offer employees resources before punitive action.
  • Emotional outbursts : Employees may show higher levels of interpersonal conflict at work. They may be getting into more disagreements than is typical or may be arguing with their supervisory staff more often. Emotional outbursts can also exist without conflict: Employees may break down in tears, or need moments to compose themselves.
  • Problems with sleep hygiene : Employees may come to work looking exhausted, or appear to be fatigued and unable to concentrate. They may mention they are experiencing insomnia or may arrive late at work because they have overslept.
  • Weight or appetite changes : Employees may experience rapid weight gain or weight loss. Understandably, weight is a sensitive subject and should never be directly broached. Still, it may be a warning sign that an employee is experiencing either a mental or physical health issue.
  • Becoming quiet or withdrawn : Employees may become quieter than they have been in the past. They may stop interacting in employee text channels, stop taking calls, and be unreachable through email. Employers should communicate with employees who appear to be “disconnecting” or “dropping out” to determine whether there may be issues that need to be addressed.
  • Engaging in substance abuse : Employees may act erratically or unpredictably due to substance abuse. They may come in exhausted after a night of drinking or may appear to be intoxicated during work. Substance abuse issues need to be addressed immediately by employers because they can be dangerous, especially on work sites.
  • Feeling guilty or worthless : Employees may start to take criticism particularly hard, and may no longer want to work on projects they are well-qualified for because they feel as though they wouldn’t be able to accomplish them. Employers should endeavour to maintain programs that can build up employee confidence and give them the tools they need to recover their self-esteem.
  • Changes in behaviour or feelings : Finally, a general change in an employee’s habits may indicate that something is wrong, regarding their mental health or their general at-home situation.

As an employer or HR professional, it’s important to keep a finger on the pulse – understand how employees are feeling and notice things that may be affecting them. Often, the best option for an HR professional is to ensure that resources are available when employees need them. Aside from this:

  • Engage employees in resilience training such as The Good Day Project.
  • Managers should have training to recognize the potential signs of mental distress.
  • Employees should regularly be trained on their own coping skills, styles, and mental health management.
  • Care should be taken to ensure that employees have the resources they need and are not overburdened. This may include providing access to EAP, and the provision of resources from non-profit organisations such as The Blackdog Institute and Beyond Blue.
  • A general emphasis on health, including physical health, should be integrated into the organization’s processes. We recommend engaging employees in physical classes, as their crucial health will be pertinent to their mental health.
  • Senior management should be brought on-board and encouraged to take a role in shaping health initiatives.

Vitality Works has formed a partnership with The Healthy Minds Program and Dr. Tom Nehmy, a global pioneer in preventative psychology. Through this partnership, clients are offered a bundle of Mental Wellbeing webinars and workshops — to better equip their employees with the skills and knowledge they need to maintain an optimal level of mental health and well-being. The Program takes a cutting-edge approach to preventive psychology, helping employees to build resilience, promote wellbeing, and drive performance. It https://vitalityworks.health/contact-us/ successfully takes the sophisticated psychological skills that promote mental health out of the therapy room and into workplaces through tailored personal development programs, seminars, and webinars.

Mental Health in the workplace should be a priority at any time during the year as mental ill-health can happen at any time. But Mental Health Week in September (NZ) and October (AU + International) is a great opportunity for employers to promote mental health in the workplace and integrate their new mental health initiatives. By calling attention to mental health, and creating a safe space for employees who are struggling, employers can encourage employees to take control of their mental health and utilise the resources and tools they have available.

Contact Vitality Works to learn more about our mental health programs.

What challenges does it tackle?

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

How it works

Our qualified professionals coach and educate your team to recognise your body’s warning signs that signal it’s time for a physical and mental reset. Delivered onsite, your team can put theory into action within their own work environment, which increases uptake and memorability while recruiting champions from within your team helps the change become part of the culture.

We understand every workplace is unique, so we use a 4-step approach to understand exactly where we need to focus.