The business mental health checklist

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With Mental Health Week (9-15 October) approaching fast, it’s important businesses implement strategies to manage stress and anxiety in the workplace for employees, managers and owners alike.

Mental illness is far more common than people realise, with 45 percent of Australians aged between 16 and 85 affected at some point in their life.

In the workplace, a total of 3.2 days per employee are lost thanks to workplace stress, making it vital that business owners are mindful of mental wellbeing in the workplace.

According to The Executive Connection (TEC) Chairman and Business Coach Jerry Kleeman, most business leaders want to support staff through difficult times, and just as importantly for the organisation, it makes good business sense to support staff who are either suffering from mental health issues or appear to be struggling with their workload.

“Mental wellbeing in the workplace continues to be a major issue for all industries. In fact, TEC members have described stress and anxiety as one of their biggest workplace concerns.”

Kleeman’s advice for all businesses is to identify sources of stress and anxiety to devise strategies to overcome these. Factors that may cause or contribute to mental wellbeing in the workplace include meeting budgets and deadlines, working through financial worries (particularly for SMEs), absence due to illness and personal or professional conflicts in the workplace.

Acknowledging that many businesses don’t have the expertise of a counsellor, Kleeman has the following strategies for managing stress and anxiety in the workplace for employees, managers, business owners and CEOs.

  • Time management is crucial to keeping stress under control during busy work periods ‐ use time effectively by working from a list every day.
  • Make your ‘todo’ list work for you ‐ when you are flat out, narrow the list down to ‘should‐do’ and ‘must‐do’ tasks.
  • Peer support – sharing experiences from your workplace with peers or a mentor through memberships such as TEC, helps to narrow down the problem and is an opportunity to identify effective strategies.
  • Don’t bottle up thoughts and feelings ‐ there are acceptable and professional ways to express feelings in the workplace if there is a work related problem, which can become much worse when not shared.
  • Be more assertive –don’t take a back seat and hope that everything will sort itself out, have the courage to address problems. A supportive work environment should encourage and assist staff to talk through problems or issues.
  • The power of compromise – happy middle ground can be found through a conflict if all parties are willing to be open and cooperate with one another.

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