Over the last few years, there has been an increased awareness of mental health. Especially through economic challenges and the COVID-19 pandemic, many conversations have been sparked about mental health in the workplace and how stress can significantly impact the mental health of both business owners and employees.
Data from R U OK? states that 1 in 2 Australians have experienced a mental health condition in their lifetime (R U OK?, 2023). This staggering statistic highlights the prevalence of mental illness in our country and further calls attention to why we should prioritise our mental health and wellbeing.
Focusing on supporting mental health in your workplace is essential, as mental health can significantly impact the wellbeing of yourself and your employees and, ultimately, the success of your business. With R U OK? Day being held this month (14 September 2023), we wanted to share some of our tips on how to look after both you and your employee’s mental health.
6 Ways To Look After Your Mental Health as a Business Owner
1. Seek Professional Support
If you have noticed that your mental health is having a negative impact on your day-to-day life, reaching out to a professional could be extremely beneficial. You can access services through the public mental health system or private practitioners in Victoria. A helpful starting point is meeting with a General Practitioner to discuss which support option best suits you and your needs.
2. Access Mental Health Resources
Similarly, many free mental health resources are available from organisations such as Beyond Blue, Lifeline, R U OK?, and Headspace. These resources can range from workplace resources on how to empower mental health in your workplace to tips on supporting someone experiencing mental illness. These organisations also offer services, including connecting with a counsellor to discuss how you can support your mental health.
3. Practicing Work-Life Balance
Work-life balance looks different for everybody, but it can be pivotal in managing your mental health. Some ways to practice work-life balance include:
- Setting clear boundaries for work hours and personal time;
- Delegating tasks to your team when possible;
- Avoid overcommitting to tasks or meetings in your workday;
- Taking regular breaks throughout the day; or
- If entitled, utilise leave and schedule regular days to recharge.
4. Connect With Your Support Network
Having a support network to lean on can be extremely helpful if you struggle with your mental health. Friends and family could lend a listening ear, or you could connect with other business owners you trust. Sharing experiences and challenges can provide emotional support and potentially offer solutions if there are work-specific stressors impacting your wellbeing.
5. Practice Self Care
Incorporating self-care practices into your daily routine can help you to prioritise your mental health. There are many ways to practice self-care, and can include:
- Relaxing hobbies;
- Prioritising sleep; and
- Healthy eating.
6. Stress Management
Unfortunately, it is common to experience high stress levels as a business owner, so developing effective stress management techniques is vital. Some common stress reduction strategies include yoga, deep breathing exercises, and meditation. However, there are some work related stress management techniques, including establishing realistic goals and expectations for tasks, practicing prioritisation of daily responsibilities, and learning to say no when necessary.
4 Ways To Look After Your Employee’s Mental Health
In addition to looking after your own mental health, supporting the mental health of your employees can help foster a healthy and productive working environment.
1. Open Communication
One of the first steps to support your employee’s mental health is to encourage open and honest communication within your organisation. Creating an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health concerns without fear of judgment can assist you in building a more supportive workplace culture.
2. Minimise Workplace Stressors
If an employee is experiencing stress related problems, irrespective of whether the cause is work related, you can take steps as the business owner to minimise stressors in the workplace. This can include delegating tasks to other team members to minimise the employee being overwhelmed with tasks, organising regular check-ins, monitor how the employee is coping, and provide access to professional assistance if required.
3. Encourage Work-Life Balance
You can encourage work-life balance for your employees by offering flexible working arrangements (such as flexible hours or offering remote work options) or encouraging staff not to engage in work outside of their scheduled hours. This can help employees manage their personal and professional lives more effectively, helping to reduce stress and burnout.
4. Assess and Gather Feedback
Empowering mental health in your workplace should not be a rarity and should be an ongoing process. Regularly assessing the effectiveness of your mental health initiatives and listening to your employees to gather their feedback can help you make changes to continuously create a supportive working environment. You can gather feedback by conducting internal surveys or by organising one-on-one meetings with each staff member.
There are many ways to prioritise your mental health and support your employees to create a mentally healthy workplace. Please remember that acknowledging that you need support is the first step to improving your mental health, and seeking help is a sign of strength.
If you are struggling with your mental health and are looking for support, you are not alone. If you require any support, please do not hesitate to reach out to any of the following organisations:
R U OK? (2023, September 7). R U OK? A coversation that could change a life.