Encouraging good mental health needs a top down approach
The best way employers can promote and support the mental health of their employees is:
1) Demonstrate good mental health in themselves. Employees do what they see. The leaders need to show well rounded, fully feeling, fully functioning humanness. This alone will ALLOW people to treat physical and mental health equally. Speak with emotional intelligence and breadth. Leaders cannot expect employees to speak about how they feel if they themselves never use emotional language.
2) Create a KIND corporate culture. This doesn’t mean ‘fluffy and weak’ it means ‘robust, flexible and kind’. Create an environment where people feel able to be honest, feel considered, and are respected for being fully human. This means work does not ‘cut them off’ to their full range of feelings, and dehumanise them.
3) Educate your directors and managers on the origin of the ‘stiff upper lip’. I believe it was invented so people could avoid emotional pain, and not show weakness. Now we are in a world where the complete opposite is true. Thwarting emotional pain weakens you, it takes energy, and energy away from employees who need to be able to have optimal functioning at work.
“Don’t leave your health and well being policy in your filing cabinet. Make it part of everyday business”.