Landing a promotion, getting your first full-time job or returning to work after having a baby are all meant to be exciting milestones in a person’s life.
However, high expectations of these events can leave us feeling underwhelmed when they actually occur.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19th May), Bupa Health Clinics1 has released new research which finds that half of Britons say that their mental health has been negatively impacted by pressure to achieve life milestones.
In reality, reaching these milestones can be hard work. Whether landing the dream job or promotion or winning a big client, you may feel an anti-climax if the buzz isn’t as big as you expected.
Comparing ourselves to others on social media in impacting this too. 85% of people said they felt this way when returning to work after having a baby; 70% said it happened when starting their first job and 64% said they felt low after getting a promotion and seeing someone else celebrate the same occasion.
Social media can be a fantastic way of engaging with friends and family, staying informed and building and maintaining a network. However, it can be easy to forget that what we see on social media is just a snapshot of a moment in time that can sometimes leave people feeling depressed and inadequate when their experiences don’t match up.
This new research shows how important it is for business leaders to be aware of their employees’ highs, as well as lows. It is important for them to take a wider view and consider the external pressures that employees have in their personal lives, rather than just focusing on the pressures at work.
It’s easy to assume that big milestones are only ever a good thing, but that isn’t always the case.
Here are my top five tips on how support employees:
1. Spot the warning signs
Be aware of any changing behaviours or moods within your team. Keep an eye out for any major shifts in attitude or productivity and address them as soon as possible. More often than not, we try and hide when we are feeling down or upset. Look out for anyone who is noticeably changing their behaviour and offer to sit down with them and see how you can support.
2. Check in regularly
Keeping issues to yourself is very common in the workplace. Arrange regular one-to-ones with employees who are going through life events, such as after returning to work from maternity leave, to see how they are doing. If further support is needed, a more holistic view of your health can be easily achieved – visit a GP or as part of Bupa’s health assessments, there is time dedicated to discussing mental health.
3. Additional support
Learn about the support that is out there and offer it to your employees. Appointing a member of the team as a mental health first aider is a great way to offer mental health training and support for staff. Having someone available to speak to about anything that may be worrying your employees can make a huge difference to their mental health, whether this is something happening in the workplace or at home.
4. Encourage openness
Morale in the office is not only important for productivity, it also has a huge impact on mental wellbeing. Encourage openness in the office with regards to mental health. Organising wellness events or breakfasts where speakers attend and talk to your team is a great way to show your employees that they can talk about their personal lives without being judged.
5. Preparation is key
As well as checking in with staff, be mindful how physical health can play a huge role in how vulnerable their mental health can be. Encourage lunchtime walks, introduce healthy eating at work, ensure your staff leave on time so they get enough downtime outside of work.
Bupa Health Clinics provides a range of health checks and GP appointments in its clinics across the UK, offering a range of trusted health services close to where people live and work.
About the author:
Arun qualified from Imperial College with a distinction in medicine, later completing academic specialist training in general practice in London. He holds membership to both the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of General Practitioners and has an array of experience in delivering safe and effective care across multiple sites and organisations.
He is particularly passionate about digital innovation in primary care, this together with an entrepreneurial mindset has meant that he has been able to successfully implement technological advances in NHS GP practices across London and Oxford.
Arun is Medical Director for Bupa Health Clinics.