Mental health and particularly mental health in the workplace has been gaining some much needed attention of late. This is fantastic to see. With the erroneously perceived stigma of mental health issues unfairly still showing up in such considerations, we need to move past these archaic notions and push forward in creating environments that promote good mental health and acceptance. Furthermore it is well known that a mentally tranquil workplace will bring outstanding benefits to the entire team on both a personal and business performance level.

“With 45% of Australians experiencing a mental health problem in their lifetime, it is likely that at some point, every worker will be affected by mental illness, either directly or indirectly.” – SANE Australia

So what can you do this summer, simply and inexpensively, within your workplace to foster good vibes and promote better mental health?

1) A calming environment

Creating an environment that is conducive to good mental health is an incredibly powerful tool. You would be surprised by the positive effects of flowers and plant life, natural light, open spaces, natural colours and good airflow. Further to these basics you should have safe accessible spaces to chill out for a moment. Stress has a serious negative impact on all forms of mental health and reducing it is a step in the right direction. Make sure you have chill zones that have a couch or comfy space and a bit of privacy to de-stress without having to leave the office.

2) Balance

There’s a reason we keep hearing about work/life balance. It’s exceptionally important to us as healthy humans and functional members of the workforce. How do you implement such a balance without sending your employees home for the day?

It’s all about an interesting social calendar and a commitment to sticking to work hours. Try having cake days, Friday drinks and nibbles, company lunches, theme days etc. You would be surprised the pervasive positive effect that such seemingly innocuous social events have on the happiness and stress levels of your employees. Couple this with the idea that your employees are not on the clock… around the clock. Refrain from requiring staff to check messages after hours, avoid calling or emailing unless absolutely vital to the role.

By breaking up the month with social events and being flexible in your approach to work hours you will have created a fertile ground for happy and healthy employees.

3) Supportive culture

Creating a supportive culture is a full time endeavor that will have lasting effects around your workplace for all employees. Embrace an ‘are you ok?’ culture from your management level down. Send your HR professionals and management team to mental health awareness courses and or provide material from mental health organisations such as SANE,  Beyond Blue or Mental Health Australia.

Further to this, supportive culture and space can include two excellent tools which can be used to combat poor mental health outcomes- exercise and nutrition. This can be easily achieved in the workplace with yoga and meditation classes,  friendly football matches, inter-office tournaments, pool /ping pong tables in the office and of course providing fresh fruit and healthy snacks in the kitchen will be great moves toward a supportive culture that is conducive to better mental health.