Although an employee may look happy on the outside, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be feeling it on the inside. Despite good progress in removing the stigma around mental health in the workplace, there’s still work to do to get the message across that it’s OK to speak about it more openly.

Time to Talk Day is about bringing together the right ingredients to have a conversation about mental health, whether that’s tea, biscuits and close friends or a room full of people challenging mental health stigma. It’s a national initiative through Time to Change with some heavyweight supporters, including Mind and Rethink Mental Illness.

Around one in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year, which means it is likely someone within your organisation is affected. According to the Mental Health Foundation, a staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.

So what action can you, as an employer, take to encourage conversations? Here are five top tips.

1. Host a coffee/tea morning

What better way to get people together to talk than over a cuppa? Boil the kettle, lay on the biscuits and give your employees the opportunity to step away from their desks, workstations or the factory floor for half an hour. You could even prepare some coasters or display some posters with conversation starters or facts about mental health, to encourage people to open a dialogue about this important issue.

2. Coordinate one-on-one sessions

Appraisal, personal development review, 360° feedback – whatever you call it, we all make time to sit down and tick the box for career development. But how many of us take the opportunity to ask our employees about their mental health? By coordinating one-on-one sessions between line managers and employees – or even just amongst ‘buddies’ across the organisation – you can encourage people to open up and raise any concerns they might have at home or at work.

3. Bring in external support

Wellbeing is more than just a buzzword now and many organisations invest in their people by offering activities or treatments on site, such as stress-relieving massages or exercise classes. Why not consider extending this to counselling, giving your team the chance to open up in a private and confidential environment with a professional from outside of the company? It might just be the encouragement they need to talk.

4. Have an open-door policy

The most important thing any senior management team can do is to have an open-door policy. Make it clear to your employees that they have the freedom and opportunity to raise any issues, at any time without the fear of being judged. It’s not only good for team morale and satisfaction, but it could also help you to identify any issues early before they become a serious problem to individuals or the organisation.

5. Offer support for staff

A great way to support your staff is to give them easy access to services that can give them specialist help when they need it. Health care cash plans like those available from Sovereign often include an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), which offers confidential access to a range of services including a 24 hour telephone support helpline, face to face counselling, legal and financial information, as well as medical information and support for managers. The services are also available for their family members to access.

For more details about how to support your staff with a Sovereign Health Care cash plan including access to an EAP, click here .



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