Acknowledging and Improving Mental Health in the Workplace
Fellow safety professionals: Did you know that April is Workplace Violence Awareness Month? It’s sad that there is even a need for such recognition, but it’s the reality- workplace violence does occur, and it occurs at a far more regular rate than we would like. There is no doubt that those in EHS need to be actively addressing the issue.
As you probably know, the state of mental health of both those external to your company and especially those internal to your company can often be a direct cause of workplace violence. Because of this, it is extremely important for those responsible for workplace and employee safety to acknowledge employees’ mental health within your safety program. Below are some safety tips to do so.
Identify potential workplace stressors and determine how to control them.
We’ll start with the most obvious. When conducting your workplace hazard analysis, in addition to environmental hazards, consider potential professional stressors that could be directly related to the workplace. Once you have identified what these may be, determine the appropriate control measures that you can put in place in order to minimize these irritants. In this modern era, we all have innumerable factors that can cause stress not only in life in general, but especially at work. This is why it is essential for employers to do what they can to reduce those stressors that are in their control.
Consider implementing a wellness program.
It’s no secret- a person’s diet and exercise regime can affect his or her mood on a micro level and even his or her entire mental state on a macro level. Unhealthy eating and lack of exercise can actually lead to an imbalance of brain chemicals. Creating and enforcing a wellness program that incentivizes employees to make healthy decisions, therefore, can combat this unhealthy behavior and definitely has the capability to positively affect the state of mental health among the workplace.
Create a trustworthy environment for employee sharing and encourage them to do so.
Many organizations will either hire an in-house counselor or utilize outsourced counseling so that their employees have the opportunity to privately and healthily talk about and get help for personal and potentially upsetting items in a professional, productive manner. Even if that is something that your company is not currently able to implement, employees should be able to go to HR to talk about issues that may be negatively affecting them within the workplace, allowing for these issues to be corrected early on. On a general level, most of us that we have this option with HR at our places of work, but not many of us act on it. By sitting down with your employees, addressing the importance of mental health, encouraging this habit and highlighting the private nature along with other benefits of talking with HR, it is likely that you can really get your employees to share more than they otherwise would.
By applying the above measures, you are taking an active approach to accounting for employee mental health, and, therefore, creating a more healthy and safe environment. For more information on how SoloProtect can help prevent workplace violence, visit www.soloprotect.com/us.