Mylo Kaye on the Importance of Providing Radical Mental Health Care in the Workplace

Mental health in the workplace is not a new thing. However, as businesses look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their staff, they see mental health and wellbeing at the forefront again and again.

Whether it’s realising there’s a better work-life balance out there, or experiencing poor mental health for the first time, something has changed for employees: they are now more willing to speak out about their mental health at work. Mylo Kaye discusses what companies can do to help.

Educate employers and employees

According to Mind, one in four people in the UK have experienced poor mental health. It’s likely that in every workplace each member of staff has either lived with mental ill health or is close to someone who has. Mylo Kaye believes that while encouraging employees to speak out about their experiences is important, it’s also crucial to educate everyone about what poor mental health looks like.

Employers can offer training about mental illness, and this doesn’t have to be a difficult or complex project. DuPont has created a five-minute video to teach workers about emotional wellbeing, which is a good place to start. Plenty of mental health charities now offer mental health training too. Companies can take their pick from what suits them best: eLearning courses for staff and managers, virtual training over Zoom, or in-house services. You don’t even need to leave the office to provide valuable training to your team.

Create a happy and supportive workplace culture

Company culture is particularly important

now that businesses are beginning their return-to-work strategies. There are many reasons why returning workers might take solace in a good workplace culture: the end of isolation for those who live alone; a break from trying to juggle work, family, and childcare; or simply the relief that comes from going back to a stable job after such uncertain times.

Mylo Kaye says that managers should look at their company culture and check whether they need to make any revisions. We have all changed due to the pandemic, and businesses should recognise this.

To encourage good mental health, consider starting a peer support network. People often find it easier to speak with their colleagues instead of those in senior positions, so a voluntary task force working as the mediator between staff and bosses could be a good way to encourage speaking out about mental illness without too much pressure.

It is also fairly easy to implement a mental health policy. This is another action that mental health charities can help with, but — essentially — it consists of tracking the work-related causes of mental illness; providing one-to-one support with employees; offering positive working relationships and social connections; and ensuring everyone knows exactly where they can find help and support.

Encourage a good work-life balance

A result of home working or furlough is that employees have revised how they best approach their work — and it’s now the manager’s job to incorporate this into their strategies.

For example, working on creative endeavours will help some members of staff to thrive, while others might feel overlooked. Loud, lively offices work for some people, but this might alienate introverts or shy people. Mylo Kaye knows that 95% of workers say their physical work environment is important for their mental health and wellbeing. The ultimate goal is to provide a happy office so that coming to work every day isn’t something employees dread. This can be done by engaging with members of staff and listening to what they want, whether in collaborative sessions, workshops with other departments, or team building and training days.

Reducing burnout is essential when managers are considering a good work-life balance. It looks like flexible work plans are one of the answers. Offering work-from-home opportunities, flexi-time, or a hybrid model created by each individual reduces stress, financial worries, and anxiety in staff members.

Staff should also be encouraged to take regular breaks, including their annual leave every year, and to leave their work in the office as much as possible. Allowing them to switch off fully when they leave the building gives employees the opportunity to engage with their social life, participate in hobbies, and spend more time with their families — all of which are important in the fight against mental illness.