October is Mental Health Month, so what better time to explore the importance of a healthy mind, as well as strategies for maintaining and improving mental health in the workplace?
The theme of Mental Health Month in 2023 is ‘We all have a role to play’, which acknowledges that good mental health is a team effort, whether that be in collaboration with our family, friends, or our colleagues.
This year’s theme provides an opportunity to examine how managers and team members each contribute to building a culture of good mental health. That’s why we’ve put together a list of strategies for each of these two roles, recognising the unique contribution each of them make to nurturing a workplace’s mental health culture. In doing so, we hope to provide a holistic resource for managers and employees alike.
The importance of mental health in the workplace
As well as enhancing your team’s sense of purpose and overall wellbeing, promoting positive mental health in the workplace yields dividends across the board, from improving performance and productivity to attracting and retaining talented employees. Essentially, actively promoting mental health creates a work environment where people feel supported, respected and valued - all things that enable them to put their best foot forward, hone their skills and achieve better results.
Management strategies for maintaining mental health in the workplace
Create a check-in culture that values communication
We often fear over-communicating in the workplace and this can have the paradoxical effect of causing us to under-communicate. The run-on effect of this is that employees may feel like they’re not being kept in the loop around organisational changes or developments, thereby breeding uncertainty and even anxiety.
A good first step to overcoming this is nurturing a check-in culture in which you actively ‘check in’ on how your employees are doing, how they’re coping with their workload, and what they’re up to outside of work, while also relaying any organisational developments relevant to their role. These conversations do not have to be overly deep or emotional to be effective - simply having them opens the lines of communication and reassures employees that they are being kept abreast of any changes in the workplace.
Lead by example and share your own vulnerabilities
Honest communication is a two-way street - you can’t expect employees to share their vulnerabilities if you’re not willing to share your own. That’s why it’s important to lead by example when it comes to talking openly about mental health. Managers need to set the tone by being honest about their own struggles.
The benefits of this are two-fold. First, management sharing their vulnerabilities helps to destigmatise discussions around mental health for employees, thereby creating a more open and communicative workplace. Second, it also signals humanity, relatability and bravery, all key qualities for an empathetic leader.
Employee strategies for maintaining mental health in the workplace
Focus on your strengths and resist comparing yourself to others
As humans, we’re prone to focus on the negatives more than the positives. The same can be said of our strengths and weaknesses, and that’s why we need to make an active effort to recognise our strengths, rather than focusing on our weaknesses by default. Once you’ve identified your strengths, talk to your supervisor about ways you could use them to add value in your role. For example, you may have identified a new process that you think would support you to work more efficiently. The worst case scenario is your supervisor rejects your suggestion but recognises your ambition and willingness to go above and beyond, while the best case scenario is you make a positive contribution to your workplace, causing you to be seen as invaluable, all while working to your own strengths.
By the same token, we often find it difficult to resist comparing ourselves to others, both at work and in our personal lives. As a result, we tend to focus on other peoples’ strengths, but when we turn our perspective inwards, we can only see the flaws. Instead, think about comparing yourself to who you were yesterday, or a month, or a year ago - think about the things you have achieved and the new skills you’ve acquired, rather than focusing on the snapshots you see of others.
Introduce mindfulness and physical activity into your work day
Instead of starting the day by checking your phone, which can often feel like opening the door to a crowd of people yelling at you, consider introducing mindfulness activities into your morning routine. This could include yoga, exercise, meditation, or even some simple breathing exercises. This will help you start your day feeling balanced, focused and present.
The physical activity need not stop there - planning your commute to include a 15 minute walk, hitting the gym at lunchtime, or riding home from the office are all great ways to introduce more exercise into your work day. All of these activities have the added benefit of improving your mental health through the ‘happy hormones’ they produce - exercise generates endorphins, while time outdoors is great for serotonin.
Mental health at Central Park
At Central Park, we believe that mental health should be a priority in every workplace. That’s why we provide a range of facilities to help you nurture yours, including our state-of-the-art Fitness Centre, End of Trip facility and sprawling landscaped green space - the only one of its kind in the CBD.
Contact us today to enquire about leasing availability.