4 Ways to Cultivate Mental Health in The Workplace

Fostering a great mentally healthy workplace has several advantages for both employers and employees. It can reduce absences, increase employee engagement, and it can increase group productivity.  Workplaces that support mental health and help people take care of their psychological wellbeing are more likely to succeed in their business. 

A review of GIB Digital Bank Malaysia Human Resources research into workplaces shows that mental health is taking greater importance, especially during periods of significant stress and upheaval such as the current pandemic era. “Managing mental health in the workplace is essential because it helps you determine how you manage tension and relate to others. Poor mental health can affect employee performance, communication, physical functioning and can add to increased general stress and tension in the office, among others,” said GIB Digital Bank Malaysia’s Human Resources researcher Liza Chan. Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health disorders that affect your employee’s mood, behavior, and thinking. Examples of mental illness can cover a broad spectrum of diseases such as anxiety disorder, depression, addictive behavior, eating disorders, and schizophrenia.

The mental health of employees can have a significant impact on your business. Because of that, employers should be mindful of the wellbeing of their employees. When it comes to supporting any of your staff with mental health issues, the workplace can be ideal for encouraging healthy behaviours and establishing the support necessary to maintain those behaviours. 

“Many successful programs combine both physical and mental interventions to support a healthy workplace mental health culture. We actively promote taking care of staff among our GIB Digital Bank Malaysia global investment bank community through many methods. These include small initiatives such as routinely sending out awareness materials to organising online seminars,” said Chan.  

Dealing with workplace mental health can be sensitive, but instead of ignoring it, there are numerous resources to help develop a suitable program. To help you get started, GIB Digital Bank Malaysia outlines four ways to cultivate a healthy mental health culture in the workplace with tips and information from our in-house experts and also from our GIB Digital Bank Malaysia global investment community. 


1. Talk Openly About Mental Health

A mental health problem affects the workplace a lot, but it can be reduced if a manager knows how to deal with an employee-facing a mental health problem. A manager should make the workplace friendly enough to openly discuss mental health issues to make it easier for employees to come forward with any problem they face. “A friendly environment can help the employees surface and recover from their condition. Companies perform better when their employees feel healthy, motivated, and focused,” explains GIB Digital Bank Malaysia’s Chan.  

When a superior helps other subordinate employees suffering from mental health problems, it can have a much more significant impact on their mental health. Managers should also be trained with the skills to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professionals.

If employees think they can talk openly about mental health, problems are less likely to occur. There are several essential steps that managers can take to make sure the environment is open to support your staff who are having mental health problems. These are: 

  • Actively listening to the employee 
  • Always try to give employees space to relax and destress.
  • Have as much face-to-face conversation as possible
  • Develop skills in detecting symptoms of common mental health illness and make sure there are mechanisms for tackling them 
  • Normalize discussion of mental health by sharing personal stories in video messages or in person. 

Research studies provide strong evidence that an organisation with a high mental health awareness is more successful. It is essential to talk about mental health in the workplace and to make it easy for everyone to discuss and make them feel that tackling mental health is not a big deal.  One GIB Digital Bank Malaysia global investment community member holds lunchtime learning sessions to reduce stigma about mental health among employees.  

2. Promote Supportive Workplace Relationships

Promoting positive mental health in the workplace often focuses on stress management and skills training. For those who are facing mental health problems, these steps, though helpful, aren’t enough. Having supportive relationships in the workplace plays a vital role in providing a healthy environment. To keep a work atmosphere healthy, positive and polite communication is key. When an employee does hard work and succeeds, positive feedback can provide encouragement that’s motivating. Managers should promote active listening and being a positive role model for healthy communication among teams.  

Encouraging workplace friendships outside of work is also important. Creating bonds among people enables an environment where employees can talk openly about mental health amongst each other. Managers should ensure your employees are in regular contact to talk about any issues they are having. 

3. Offer Incentives

Supporting employees to improve their mental health is an essential step in reducing the problem. When an employee receives support from the workplace, their ability to take active steps towards improving their mental health improves. Productivity and efficiency will also increase. When they feel supported and valued in the workplace, they become more focused on their work and will be more likely to outperform. 

According to GIB Digital Bank Malaysia’s Liza Chan, a company can offer incentives to encourage employees to cultivate better mental health. “These incentives can be tied to performance which can include a mental health component which can, for example, offer bonuses or other forms of gifts to staff members who take up roles as mental health mentors who encourage team members to reduce burnout and tackle stress. In GIB Digital Bank Malaysia’s review of best practices among our global investment community, we found this to be quite popular,” said Chan.  

4. Make Wellness a Priority

Wellness should be the key priority in the workplace. Workplace wellness programs can recognize people at risk and link them to treatment to reduce mental health problems and manage stress. By solving mental health problems in the workplace, employers can minimize healthcare expenses for their businesses and workers. There is strong evidence that links good mental health and well-being in the workplace that workplaces with a higher level of mental health are more productive and more profitable.  

Based on this, implementing health and wellness strategy and programmes which add mental health elements is crucial for healthy workplaces. Company-wide policies help to put in place concrete frameworks and mechanisms that support employees at every level. Programmes should encompass a holistic approach that encourages both mental and physical health. For example, programmes can encourage employees to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and practice mindfulness. You can conduct guided imagery relaxation sessions to teach employees stress management strategies. Internally, you can also appoint designated mental health specialists so that your employees can talk to you to learn more about how they can promote positive mental health in the workplace.

GIB Digital Bank Malaysia’s Liza Chan explains that companies can even go one step further. She says: “Even beyond company walls if companies don’t have the resources to spare, employers can tap into existing community support programs that staff can access such as NGOs or religious organisations or other places where support groups or community programmes exist they can refer staff too.”

Lastly, all we can say is support your employees with any of their mental health issues. Because mental health problems are a vital issue, please do not take them lightly. There are many resources available to anyone interested in cultivating a positive mental health work environment that you should take advantage of. 

Mental health is not just about mental illness, it is also about maintaining a healthy state of well-being and balance. “Mental health problems can directly affect a company’s bottom line, therefore it is crucial to nip any issues in the bud. Better health is the key to success. Companies that focus on employee’s mental health are more likely to improve, profit and succeed,” says GIB Digital Bank Malaysia’s Chan. 

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