25 Jan 2020

Widely regarded as the most depressing day of the year, Blue Monday happens on the third Monday of January each year. How did you fare?

Just to be clear, Blue Monday isn’t based on anything scientific. It’s more to do with a series of variables that leave us feeling a bit sadder than usual: the cold dark evenings, the return to work after silly season, the unwelcome arrival of credit card bills, and the long wait for January’s pay cheque.

Blue Monday might just be a national awareness day, but workers can have these feelings any time of the year. According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six employees experiences mental health issues such as anxiety and depression at any given time. Many of these feelings centre around the workplace, with roughly 300,000 jobs lost each year due to poor mental health.

It’s up to employers to help staff struggling with mental health, and a good place to start is by recognising the great work your employees do. This recognition can help boost positivity, motivation, and productivity in the workplace.

A post on HR News suggests five steps employers can follow when faced with an employee struggling with January (or any month of the year) blues.

1 Be clear in your communication

Communicating with staff is crucial. Start a conversation to let employees know you are happy to speak about any problems at work that may be affecting their ability to cope with workloads. Be clear that you can provide a ‘safe space’ in which they can talk openly.

2 Offer training in mental health support

Provide training for managers so they are able to identify and support workers who may be struggling with their mental health. This includes recognising the signs of stress, anxiety and depression and knowing how to raise the topic with workers.

3 Consult the professionals

When it comes to the mental health of your employees, never feel you should go it alone. Speak with medical professionals and occupational health to make sure you are well informed about the problem and how it could affect (or how it could be affected by) the employee’s job.

4 Make reasonable modifications                   

If there are changes you can make that will help an employee remain in work, you should be making them. In cases where an employee is ill over a long period of time and that illness results in a disability, you are legally obliged to do so.

5 Review the situation often

Mental health is an ongoing issue, with issues reoccurring even when they seem to have disappeared. Don’t think you can address a problem then forget about it. You will need to review situations regularly and make sure you stay on top of issues as they arise.

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