Mental health is still a taboo topic for most people. A recent study showed less than half of people diagnosed with a mental illness have told their manager. This avoidance of the subject often leads to those suffering being isolated as well as a sense of failing.
Making the transition from school to work can be a difficult thing to navigate and can lead to natural feelings of stress or anxiety.
There are some simple things you can do to break the taboo and create a healthy and enjoyable environment for your apprentice and, and other staff, to flourish.
If you’re not used to talking about it, it can seem difficult and too personal – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Opening up the workspace by encouraging others to be honest about how they are can create a whole new outlook. Listen to others, make sure people know it’s not a weakness, and understand their difficulties. Each conversation will be different for individual people, but it will get easier. Having general meetings to talk about well-being and the steps people can take for help is a great way to show that your work place is understanding towards everyone.
Have you noticed an employee has gone through something difficult in their personal life? Are they distracted at work? Have trouble focusing? Don’t eat? Over eat? Under too much pressure?
There are so many signs it can seem overwhelming, and sometimes there are no signs at all! How do we sort someone having a bad day from a mental illness? We can’t make assumptions that one or any sign is necessarily a mental illness. But, as a start, we can ask them. Check in to see if they’re alright in a confidential talk. They might just say they’re “fine” and that might or might not be the truth. But the important thing is that by creating that dialogue you’re telling them that they can trust you, and in time they will.
Different employees need different things. When mental illness is involved employees might need a quieter work environment, extra support, different break times, and more. Work with your employee to understand their personal needs and any possible triggers they could have at work. If they need extra time off, be understanding and remember leave for mental and physical problems should be treated the same. Maybe suggest a gradual, staggered return to work to ease the transition. It’s important to understand everyone is different and that they are the experts in their own mental health. Listen, understand, and adapt to the individual.
Focus on all an employee can still do, rather than on what they can’t. Make sure throughout all this that nothing you do will come at the sake of your own mental health. It’s a difficult journey, but be proud of anything you do that will help make this easier for anyone else.
If you need further guidance on mental health for your apprentice, your Step Forward mentor can assist you. Get in touch on 020 3793 7333.