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We need to talk about mental health at work

Mental health is a problem all too often dismissed as an issue of the individual employee and not taken seriously by businesses. This fundamental misunderstanding is costing employers and their staff dearly.

Staff spend over half their waking hours at work and a recent mental health survey, supported by YouGov, showed 62% of staff directly attribute their symptoms of poor mental health to their work.

Although the perception of mental health is slowly changing, it is routinely seen as a taboo subject in the workplace with a culture of fear and silence prevalent in offices across the country. Research carried out by mental health charity, Mind, further highlighted the problem with results showing 30% of staff felt they wouldn’t talk to a line manager if they were feeling stressed.

As such, businesses of all sizes need to step up and take responsibility for the mental health of their employees. Organisations have the ability to make real inroads into the problem and effectively improve mental health. Solutions don’t need to be complex or costly but should instead take a holistic approach; improving the overall health of staff, both physically and mentally.

To support Mental Health Awareness Week (8 - 12 May) we want to showcase how organisations can transform mental health by making simple changes to their corporate wellness initiatives.

Start a conversation

Creating an open, inclusive and supportive working environment is a fundamental building block to making a workplace where mental health is improved and not ignored.

It’s important businesses start the conversation around mental health and lead from the front. Take proactive steps to communicate your mental health strategy, including where to turn if problems arise.

Corporate wellness initiatives need to be well communicated and engage staff from all backgrounds. At StepJockey, we often find organisations inadvertently direct their health programmes at the already-fit minority. Instead, organisations should reassess their approach and motivate staff from all physical backgrounds to take part. Take a look at our top tips if you’re struggling to engage your staff to improve their physical and mental health

Bring staff together

Corporate wellness programmes should bring people together and instil a culture of togetherness. By launching initiatives that force staff, from board level to intern, to engage with each other you are indirectly building a more open working culture throughout the organisation.

All the corporate stair climbing challenges run by StepJockey are team-based and we actively encourage staff to create teams with people they don’t know. By working together with different people, you’re breaking down barriers and making it easier to build stronger working relationships.

Keep moving and stay active

The link between physical activity and mental health is often forgotten in the workplace. Instead, it’s tackled using separate strategies and policies. Why not take a unifying approach and tackle the problem using a combined corporate wellness programme?

Adding more physical activity into the working day doesn’t need to be time consuming or disruptive. Wellness programmes should focus on making it easy to build healthy habits into your routine.

Motivating staff to regularly take the stairs, instead of the lift, is an easy and cost-effective way to boost physical and mental health. It also appeals to a wide cross-section of people that are often hard to reach; as it requires no special skills or Lycra!

At StepJockey we further gamify stair-use using fun stair climbing challenges to bring staff together and amplify the health benefits across the business. Participating in regular physical activity is a powerful tool to help individuals increase their self-esteem, reduce stress and decrease problems with anxiety.

Share your experiences of mental health at work using #MHAW17 and #StepJockey on social media. Let’s step up to better health and break down the mental health stigma in the workplace.

Give staff a boost

Learn how you can use StepJockey to boost the physical and mental health of staff in your workplace.

Find out more