With World Mental Health Day approaching on October 10, Great Place to Work® dedicated some time to learning about Mental Health First Aid at the workplace. Last year, Great Place to Work® Singapore published an Insights Report on Employee Well-being in the new workplace which featured how Singapore’s Best Workplaces™ care for their people. Based on research done by Great Place to Work® in partnership with John Hopkins University, the definition of well-being now includes an employee’s sense of purpose and meaningful social connections in an environment that is characterized by authentic and caring relationships between employees. It concluded that employee well-being has become a business imperative. One way of gauging holistic employee well-being at work is the mental and emotional support that employees receive at the workplace, financial health where employees believe they are paid fairly for the work they do, and the personal support they have in achieving their goals.
With this emphasis, Great Place to Work conducted its own learning session for our people. Denise Baje, our Great Place to Work’s Customer Success Manager who is a Certified Mental Health Frontliner shared the following tips:
What is mental health?
It is our emotional, psychological and social well-being that can affect how we think, feel and act. It also helps to determine how one handles stress, relates to others and makes healthy choices. A person can experience poor mental health without being diagnosed and likewise, a person diagnosed with mental illness can also experience periods of physical, mental and social well-being.
Denise shared that it was important to understand how people can experience a build-up of the everyday stresses such as burnout, financial stress, dealing with the effects of a Covid pandemic or even fluctuations at work. Over time, chronic stress can lead to trauma, and when an individual is experiencing a mental health crisis, their ability to cope is affected. This state of disequilibrium can trigger depression, anxiety, and stress. However, when one is in a good state of mental health, it allows the individual to cope better with the normal stresses of life, to develop resilience in the face of extreme life events and disruptions and to work productively and contribute positively to the community.
Mental Health First Aid in the workplace
When signs of a crisis surface in a colleague at work, one can start to see behavioural changes such as withdrawal from normal activities, a decreased performance at work, dramatic shifts in sleep habits, and even drastic changes in weight.
Mental Health Frontliners are certified with proper training and orientation by providing intervention, action and assistance in any situation that involves mental health issues or emergencies. The key role of a mental health frontliner is to help, not to diagnose or to replace the care and service provided by professionals.
However, not all workplaces will have employees who are certified and some do not have access to a Mental Health Frontliner. What are some ways you can help as an employee? According to Denise, an employee can learn, firstly, to make a connection to the person needing help and have a private conversation with him/her in a calm and safe space. The first focus should be protection from any danger, ensuring physical care, followed by immediate intervention whilst maintaining a direct, active and calm composure. After doing this, the employee can take action by helping to provide an accurate information about the situation at-hand without giving any false assurance, and if needed, link the person to a professional emergency care.
How can an employee be a better source of support for colleagues at work?
Denise shared some tips that everyone can utilise. An action such as listening with empathy, showing genuine care and concern, not assuming anything and to be “present” for the person, is key. These are actions that employees can take as a first step in building reflective listening skills that can lend support to a person in a time of their need. “Give time to let the person share their story and value the person in what they have to share, these can go a long way,” she said.
Another way to manage mental wellness in the workplace is to employ mental health self-care or small actions that one can take to manage our own mental health. “Giving ourselves space to breathe, reflect and to practice self-awareness can help. Learning to be kind to ourselves, taking care of our overall health and finding time to rest is also valuable,” she shared.
To find out more about Great Place to Work® Singapore’s Employee Well-being Insights Report, click here.
Daphne believes in building community-relatable content, telling stories through narratives that add value in today’s workplace and in culture-building. Her idea of a great workplace is one that thrives on openness, support and inclusivity while building trust and working towards a common business growth and purpose. A journalist, she spent 15 years writing for trade publications, lifestyle magazines and broadsheet supplements. Daphne was also active in the Parent Support Group of her daughters’ school, chairing the volunteer-run committee for 3 years. A mum of two teenagers and two adopted dogs, she enjoys riding on her trusty bicycle to discover new sights and sounds in Singapore.