By Michael Selinger
Today is an important day for your organisation to start conversations about a difficult subject that affects people across the whole of the Australian workforce.
R U OK? is a charity aimed at raising awareness of the risk of suicide and to assist in its prevention. R U OK? Day is a good opportunity to reflect on what steps your organisation is taking to improve mental health in the workplace.
The approach is straightforward.
Ask the simple question of someone whether they are ok and you initiate a conversation that may lead to a vulnerable person seeking assistance and potentially prevent suicide.
The theory behind the approach is that if you can improve the feeling of connection between people, then the risk of harm is reduced. You can do this by inspiring others to ask “are you ok?” and then to genuinely take the time to listen to the answer.
What can your organisation do?
No workplace is immune from its workers developing mental health issues, particularly if the workplace involves, or has had some history of:
- job insecurity;
- long working hours;
- poor communication; or
- high levels of pressure.
Campaigns like R U OK? Day are a good way to promote health and well-being in your workplace.
Of course, it is important to consider how your organisation approaches mental health and stress holistically and not just for one day of the year.
The key process to implement is a framework, underpinned by training and good management that promotes a supportive work environment designed to reduce stress and eliminate bullying.
Steps you can consider include:
- upskilling your managers to be able to assist workers suffering from stress or mental health issues;
- monitoring health and well-being in your organisation through confidential surveys;
- introducing peer-to-peer support programs;
- introducing health and well-being programs;
- making available a well-resourced Employee Assistance Plan; and
- implementing anti-bullying policies and training staff in their operation.