mental health awareness week 2016
20th May 2016

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Mental Health Awareness Week Twitter Takeover. Here are all the questions and their responses.

Q – I have an employee suffering from depression, what can I do to help them at work?

Be patient and offer them support. Try and ensure that people in authority are not making judgements or taking the tough love route as this can make things worse. Raise awareness about depression and mental health amongst the workforce, including what support is available through EAP’s or OCC Health. Referring your employee to OCC Health can provide specific support to help them manage the condition.

Q – Our company has made a lot of redundancies and it’s affecting morale. What can I do to reassure my team?

Keep employees up to date with regular and effective communication of the changes and options available. Offer open door and/or group discussions so they can air any concerns.

Q – Is there such a thing as mental health awareness training?

Yes. We deliver a range of mental health related training including training for managers on how to support people with mental health conditions. Another course we provide is aimed at building resilience within the organisation.

Q – If an employee is suffering from mental health issues, is it my responsibility as a manager to suggest counselling?

It is not your responsibility but it would be supportive to do so. If you have concerns about their performance, behaviour, absence, or psychological health then a referral to an OCC Health professional can be made. As a manager you should provide any support that includes signposting to agencies, EAP’s or OCC Health that they might find beneficial.

Q – I want to train my managers to recognise the early signs of stress, can you help?

Yes, we deliver a wide range of services for stress. Give us a call on 01925 838 350 to find out which ones would  be best for your company.

Q – How can you help me manage stress within the workplace?

We run a range of programmes including employee surveys, focus groups and mental health audits, as well as training sessions for managers and employees.

Q – I’ve read that flexible working promotes good mental health. What does that mean and how can I implement it?

Flexible working may help your employees obtain a good work/life balance, particularly if they are looking after children or vulnerable adults. How this is arranged depends on the needs and organisation of your business.

Q – One of my employees seems withdrawn and not himself. How do I bring this up with him?

Offer a private, informal and confidential chat to find out if there are any problems and if you can give any assistance. If the employee declines do not insist but advise them that you are available at any time if they wish. Most importantly, don’t jump to any conclusions

Q – We have good banter within our team but I have now been accused of bullying. What can I do?

Understanding the difference between banter and bullying is really important. What may appear as banter to some can cause offence to others. You should look to hold an impartial meeting with a manager within your company to get to the bottom of what has happened. Can these differences in opinion be reconciled? Would mediation help? We would recommend training to raise awareness on equality, diversity, harassment and bullying as well.

Q – A new employee seems to be working really long hours. Is she really keen or have I put too much workload on her?

Is her job role clearly defined and structured? Have you provided training on how to undertake the job? Is it taking her a little more time to get used to the systems that you have in place which is increasing the time taken to perform the tasks? Could you phase her in to your working practices so that she can adjust and take less time as she gains experience?

Q – An employee just died suddenly and it’s hit us all really hard. What can I do to get my team through this difficult time?

Offer counselling services for your team and yourself. Group support or discussion may help. It is important to consider that people will react differently and on differing timescales. The majority of people will return to normal after the first month but some are likely to require some professional help to come to terms with their emotions and psychological well being. We would recommend that you focus on those employees who are truly at risk and make sure things don’t get worse.

Q – My co-worker is having a really tough time but doesn’t want to talk about it. Should I say anything to our boss?

This is a tricky question (thank you) with many levels to consider. If there are health and safety concerns then you must tell your employer. If you feel they would benefit from support available through the company then consider suggesting they talk to a manager, HR or even OCC Health for support. Do you have an EAP or support network internally? Unless they have specifically asked you not to say anything then you may wish to confidentially advise your manager of your concerns.

Q – I’ve been called to a disciplinary hearing for shouting at a co-worker. I’ve been diagnosed with depression and anger issues, what can I do?

If you haven’t already done so, you need to tell your manager or HR about your diagnosis so that this can be considered in the management of the disciplinary hearing. Talk to your HR manager and see whether you can be referred for anger management sessions. Making your company aware of any concerns you have can help you receive any support in a timely fashion.

Q – One of my drivers had an accident at work and is hurt. Will they get PTSD and is there anything I can do to prevent it?

It is not always the case that a person suffers from PTSD after an accident. If it occurs it might happen immediately or it could develop sometime in the future. It is best to monitor and review with your employee. Symptoms of PTSD may include: re-experience phenomena or reliving the accident; avoidance or numbing phenomena – efforts to avoid activities, places or people which by association could arouse recollections of trauma; sleeping difficulties; irritability; poor concentration; hyper-vigilance; low threshold for startle response.

Q – One of my employees has taken a lot of time off work lately with no signs of physical illness. How can I approach this?

Have these absences been monitored and recorded? If so then we would advise that a meeting with the employee should be undertaken. This will enable you to understand what the causes of absence were, provide any support if necessary and make sure the employee is aware of the company attendance policy.

Q – An employee’s wife has been diagnosed with cancer and he’s finding it hard to cope. How can I support him?

Offer a private, informal and confidential chat to find out if you can give any assistance. If the employee declines make sure they know that you are available in the future if they wish. Signposting to support such as EAP, or consider making a referral if you feel it would be of benefit.

Q – My boss seems to be harder on me than other members of my team. Is this bullying?

Maybe, but if you are underperforming when others are not then it could be justified.

Q – I’ve heard rumours amongst my team that an employee is having personal difficulties. I want to help, but how?

There are two things here. Firstly, try to stop the rumour mill amongst the teams. This wouldn’t necessarily help matters and can make the situation worse for the employee concerned. I would hold an informal chat with the person and see what support we have that can be made available. Support could be EAP’s, referral to OCC Health or counselling, amongst others. Typically in our experience, knowing that someone is there and taking an interest can be very positive and make all the difference to the employee.

Q – As an employer what responsibility do I have to look after the mental health of my employees?

Employers have a responsibility for the health and safety of all employees. This includes their physical as well as psychological safety.

If you’d like to find out more about any of the issues raised during Mental Health Awareness Week, or want to know how the services and training we provide can help your business ensure the ongoing good mental health of your employees, call 0845 862 8040


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