Mental Health Awareness Week is an annual event when there is an opportunity for the whole of the UK to focus on achieving good mental health.
Mental Health Awareness Week 2022 will take place 9-15 May on the topic of Loneliness.

Why loneliness?

Loneliness affects millions of people in the UK every year and is a key driver of poor mental health. Research has found that loneliness has been exacerbated by the Covid pandemic. Loneliness has been an important factor contributing to higher levels of distress, resulting from people’s sense of isolation and reduced ability to connect with others.

How to get involved

You might be wondering whether one person’s efforts can really make a difference, and the answer is “Yes, absolutely!” Every conversation you have about the importance of recognising and treating mental illness creates a ripple effect that reaches people in your circle and far beyond it. There are many ways that you can raise awareness for mental health. Read on for some suggestions:

  • Talk with everyone you know, asking friends, family and colleagues how they’re doing – and really listen to their answers.
  • Open up about your experiences if you have them. Sharing your story about your own struggles with mental illness could be the encouragement that someone else needs to open up about theirs. It can be reassuring to hear that someone else has experienced similar struggles and is now able to tell their story.
  • Encourage kind language and explore ‘person-centred language.’ Any language that reinforces the stigma surrounding mental illness is harmful and might keep someone from getting help. So be sure to call it out when anyone is using derogatory words about mental illness and try educating them on the consequences of their language.
  • Educate yourself about mental illness so that you can pass on your knowledge to those in your circle. It’s pretty common for people to misunderstand mental illness, so educating yourself on common misconceptions prepares you to have those conversations.
  • Use your social media accounts to spread awareness. There’s a lot of important and quality content out there that can reach thousands of people if you share it. We now have the platforms to allow us to reach more people, so don’t be afraid to use them to spread awareness about such important issues.
  • Support people to see the connection between physical and mental health. Eating healthy and getting plenty of exercise and sleep all play a part in a person’s mental and emotional state. Mental health doesn’t exist in isolation from your physical health, so looking after both simultaneously can be the most effective way to maintain your all-around wellbeing.

How can you help in the workplace?

Talk openly
If employees feel they can talk openly about mental health, problems are less likely to build up. This could lead to:

  • less time off for a mental health issue; and
  • improved morale in the workplace.

Create a supportive environment

It’s helpful if you create an environment where your employees feel able to talk openly about mental health.

For example:

  • treating mental and physical health as equally important;
  • making sure employees have regular one-to-ones with their managers, to talk about any problems they’re having; and
  • encouraging positive mental health, for example arranging mental health awareness training, workshops or appointing mental health ‘champions’ who employees can talk to.

Improving mental health and wellbeing is a shared goal.

Managers should:

  • Build rapport with employees;
  • Plan work with ‘people’ in mind;
  • Have confidence and knowledge in managing mental health;
  • Handle difficult conversations effectively; and
  • Support work-life balance.

Employees should:

  • Look after their own wellbeing;
  • Use positive coping strategies;
  • Identify personal stress triggers;
  • Engage with their manager; and
  • Take notice and support colleagues.

Employers should:

  • Lead and embed a wellbeing strategy;
  • Reduce stigma;
  • Support and train managers;
  • Understand the impact personal issues can have on mental wellbeing;
  • Introduce regular 1 to 1 meetings;
  • Provide mental health awareness activities; and
  • Provide mental health helplines and external support.

But, before you can develop any kind of wellbeing and mental health strategy, you need to know what your employees are thinking and how they are feeling, so that your approach can be targeted and will have the most significant impact.

Here at Hallidays HR, we have put together 3 different Wellbeing Packages that will help you to do just this. The focus is around asking your employees exactly how they are feeling; whether they feel supported and what you, as their employer, can do to help.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us.