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Shining the spotlight on mental health

Employees comfortable discussing mental health are more likely to seek help and support when needed. (Image source: Adobe Stock)


In advance of the MENA HSE Forum, Dr Irshad Laghari, manager health - HSE at Petrofac, highlights the importance of prioritising workers’ mental health and wellbeing

How important is it to break the stigma around mental health, and how can organisations embed psychological safety within their operations?

Breaking the stigma around mental health is critically important for several reasons. Promoting mental health awareness and reducing stigma can lead to improved employee well-being. When employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health, they are more likely to seek help and support when needed, leading to better overall mental health. A positive organisational culture leads to workers feeling valued and supported; they are more likely to be committed to the organisation and its mission.

Leadership plays a crucial role in setting the tone for a stigma-free culture. Senior leaders should openly discuss mental health, share their experiences, and demonstrate a commitment to promoting psychological safety.

Organisations should establish Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) to provide confidential counselling and support for employees facing mental health challenges. They should ensure that employees are aware of these resources and how to access them.

They should develop clear policies and procedures related to mental health and well-being, including how to request accommodation and support, and ensure that these policies are communicated and easily accessible to all employees. 

What should the role of management be in promoting workers' mental health and driving employee engagement?

The role of management in promoting workers' mental health and driving employee engagement is crucial for a healthy, productive, and positive work environment. Management plays a pivotal role in creating a work environment that promotes mental health and employee engagement. When employees feel valued, supported, and heard, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged, and productive, ultimately benefiting the organisation.

Some key responsibilities and strategies that management can employ are:

• Fostering a culture of respect, empathy, inclusivity, open communication, and active listening to address employees' concerns and needs.

• Involving employees in decision-making processes when appropriate, as this empowers them and makes them feel valued.

• Educating workers about mental health issues, reducing stigma, and providing resources for seeking help when in need.

• Managers should set an example by taking care of their own mental health, managing stress, and showing a commitment to the well-being of their teams.