As part of Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, Professor Neil Greenberg gives his view on the theme of this year’s campaign ‘relationships’, and particularly how workplace relationships can impact and shape our mental health.
There is a saying that resilience occurs between people, not within people and the evidence certainly supports this.
People with social support and structure often fare better in their mental health than those without such support, and this applies too in the workplace.
The growing evidence base for peer support shows that such systems help to support and prevent issues becoming more developed, by training staff to spot early signs and ensuring early intervention.
Also key is the relationship that managers have with their staff. Managers and leaders who are approachable and open about mental health can make a real difference to the mental wellbeing of their staff. Good leaders can help shape organisational culture in a positive way, creating an environment where personnel feel supported and not penalised or stigmatised, which encourages them to speak up and seek support if they need it. This can also be fostered by having in place organisational policy which supports mental health.
There are resources to help organisations to develop a positive approach to mental health in the workplace. Guidance from the UK Psychological Trauma Society is a good starting point, although it has a trauma focus it’s advice can be applied to organisations and personnel dealing with everyday occupational stressors.
Hopefully the spotlight that Mental Health Awareness week is shining on the importance of relationships will encourage conversations, and action, on mental health and we will see a continued move towards more supported and resilient workforces.
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