I am the new manager. How can we create a workplace that values mental health?
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on being promoted to a management position, but more importantly, for recognizing the fact that mental health is an important component of success in the workplace.
Countries are estimated to lose 5% of their GDP to mental health deficiencies, and equally important is the fact that Kenya last year showed that investing in mental health can lead to significant long-term savings. am.
Two years ago, the Task Force on Mental Health established the fact that Kenya has a huge burden of mental illness and that this burden is not rewarded by the resources invested in mental health.
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A case report on investing in mental health was categorical as saving billions of shillings.
However, this is not your question. You want to know what you can do to promote mental health literacy within your workforce and improve healthy behavior patterns among your staff.
A good starting point is to recognize that your intentions are correct, and that there is plenty of evidence to support your intended approach. A well-known example illustrates this point.
After HIV was declared a national disaster in the 90s, Kenya succeeded in reducing the spread of the disease by getting as many Kenyans as possible to learn as much as possible about HIV/AIDS.
What became clear in the years that followed was what we all knew instinctively: knowledge is power.
The more people knew, the more empowered they were and the less stigma they had.
We recommend following a similar template for your new role. The first step is to get as many people in your organization as possible to provide as much relevant information as possible.
You may be surprised to learn that there are several organizations in Kenya that operate programs specifically for promoting mental health and wellness.
We recommend contacting one to help you understand what’s on offer.You may be surprised at the depth and breadth of information available.
Additionally, it is right to ensure that you have the approval and support of your board of directors before implementing any program.
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Equally important is making sure staff understand that promoting mental health in the workplace is not evidence that they have a mental health “problem”.
This is a misconception that often leads to resistance to the kind of programs you consider.
In this regard, it’s worth remembering that up to 20% of the workforce below you will sooner or later need some form of mental health support.
On a positive note, keep in mind that having a job itself can prevent the development of some mental disorders by providing a sense of belonging and self-esteem.
Just like washing your hands before eating and after using the restroom to prevent the spread of germs, there are similar “hygiene” strategies in mental health practices.
Examples of such measures include ensuring adequate sleep, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and regular exercise.
Talking about mental health in the workplace and implementing employee assistance programs are also things you can consider in your new role.
In time, you may plan to develop an anti-bullying policy and put in place a system to monitor common and preventable conditions such as burnout.
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