Hercules is committed, through the implementation of this policy and our own actions, to promoting positive mental health for all staff. Equally, we want to provide staff with information and resources on how they can look after their own wellbeing and to lead by example in this regard – through our day-to-day behaviours, through providing activities within work that support individual wellbeing, and through promoting a healthy work/life balance.
The following five evidence-based steps have been researched and developed by the New Economics Foundation, and are recognised as being important for our individual wellbeing. These may help stimulate ideas for activities (inside and outside the workplace) that support this aim:
Connect: Connect with the people around you. With family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. At home, work, school or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in developing these relationships. Building these connections will support and enrich you every day.
Be Active: Go for a walk or run. Step outside. Cycle. Play a game. Garden. Dance. Exercising makes you feel good. Most importantly, discover a physical activity you enjoy and that suits your level of mobility and fitness.
Take Notice/Be mindful: Be curious. Catch sight of the beautiful. Remark on the unusual. Notice the changing seasons. Savour the moment, whether you are walking to work, eating lunch or talking to friends. Be aware of the world around you and what you are feeling. Reflecting on your experiences will help you appreciate what matters to you.
Keep Learning: Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course. Take on a different responsibility at work. Fix a bike. Learn to play an instrument or how to cook your favourite food. Set a challenge you will enjoy achieving. Learning new things will make you more confident as well as being fun.
Give: Do something nice for a friend, or a stranger. Thank someone. Smile. Volunteer your time. Join a community group. Look out, as well as in. Seeing yourself, and your happiness, linked to the wider community can be incredibly rewarding and creates connections with the people around you.
B. How to recognise signs of mental health problems at work
We may become aware of signs which indicate that a colleague is experiencing mental health or emotional wellbeing difficulties. These warning signs should always be taken seriously and staff observing any of these warning signs should communicate their concerns to the employee’s line manager and/or Mental Health and Wellbeing Lead. Possible warning signs include:
- changes in productivity e.g. deterioration in performance at work, lethargy in a previously energetic person, new pattern of unexplained lateness or absences, recent inability to concentrate on work, recent inability to complete work;
- changes in social functioning e.g. deterioration in social functioning, withdrawal from colleagues, isolation;
- changes in personality or behaviour e.g. extreme mood swings, acting anxious or agitated, showing rage, uncontrolled anger, behaving recklessly;
- increased alcohol or drug use;
- changes in eating and sleeping patterns;
- signs of (self-inflicted) physical harm.
C. How to identify areas of stress at work
The HSE defines stress as ‘the adverse reaction people have to excessive pressure or other types of demand placed on them’’. This makes an important distinction between pressure, which can be a positive state if managed correctly, and stress which can be detrimental to health.
They identify six main areas of work design which can affect stress levels, and which should be managed carefully and proactively. These are:
- demands: workload, work patterns, environment;
- control: how much say you have in the way you do your work;
- support: encouragement, sponsorship and resources provided by organisation, line management and colleagues;
- relationships: promoting positive working to avoid conflict and dealing with unacceptable behaviour;
- role: understanding your role within the organisation and whether the organisation ensures that you don’t have conflicting roles;
- change: how organisational change is managed and communicated.