Stress & Mental Health in the Workplace

We are all challenged with stress in different forms and sizes, every day.  Philippa Simpson, Managing Director of Blocc Interiors shares her insights, thoughts and learnings about stress and mental health awareness in the workplace.

It is important to be aware of how we are feeling and the things that may help or hinder our stress management.  For business owners and managers, it is especially important to understand how to deal with employee mental health in the workplace.

From not getting enough sleep, financial issues, family, friends, children (which never stops!!) team members, watching the news, reading a newspaper, listening to the radio, documentaries on Netflix, to more serious issues, we can all be affected and triggered in many different ways.

As a parent, grandparent, friend, and business leader I found myself in a challenging, trusted and privileged position and I admit, it’s never easy to juggle so many human beings at once, sharing yourself and trying to keep a bit back for yourself!

I have children and as they have grown, the pressures change. It becomes much more intense emotionally, as you lose control over the decision making, what they are eating, watching, doing etc It becomes so much harder!

The same happens in a business when it grows so it’s essential to embed a culture of care and support through Senior Leadership Teams. Our people undeniably make the characteristic of a business and as leaders we have a responsibility to create safe environments and nurture our teams.

The role has undoubtedly become more challenging and as we begin to learn more and have a greater understanding about mental health issues, we must teach and ensure the same values cascade through our teams. Business leaders must create support networks, value relationships with employees, create trusted environments to make it more comfortable for employees to share sensitive information with you.

What Can We Do To Promote Stress Awareness In The Workplace?

Stress can manifest in different ways be it physical, mental or emotional and the effects on our health should not be underestimated.

There are a number of things that you can do as an employer to promote stress awareness in the workplace and support your employees’ mental health:

  1. Promote a healthy work/life balance. Employees who feel like they have a good work/life balance are less likely to experience burnout or feelings of being overwhelmed
  2. Encourage open communication. Employees should feel like they can come to you with any concerns, big or small
  3. Offer stress management resources. This could be anything from a list of helpful websites to on-site yoga classes or massages
  4. Be understanding and flexible. Sometimes life happens and employees need to take a step back. If you are understanding and accommodating, they will be more likely to come to you when they need help rather than struggling silently

What Can We Do To Support Our Employees?

If you have an employee who is struggling with mental health issues, there are a few things you can do to support them:

  1. First and foremost, listen. Show them that you are truly concerned about their wellbeing and want to help in any way you can
  2. Encourage them to seek professional help if they feel like they need it
  3. Offer accommodations. This could be anything from letting them work from home a few days a week to changing their hours or duties
  4. Follow up with them regularly to see how they are doing
  5. Private Health Care

Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it is important to take care of both in order to lead a happy and healthy life. If you are an employer, make sure you are doing your part to support your employees’ mental health. And if you are an employee, don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you are struggling.

Stress and Mental Health Awareness at Blocc Interiors

At Blocc we provide private healthcare and critical illness cover. We always support one another and look out for each other and everyone has that instinctive desire to look after one another. If the chips are down, we build each other back up, a natural response to protect and support, whether it be an internal or external often an outside of work event that is stressful and work is a distraction.

We provide access to an EAP scheme (Employee assistance programme) this gives our employees access to professional support and advice in many areas.

We seek to always improve working conditions, take a break, encourage a work life balance, raise awareness, keep improving, keep talking, listening, supporting one another & make small changes that have big impacts on the people around us.

Managing Stress

The key to managing stress is to understand what causes it and how it affects us. Once we know this, we can take steps to reduce its impact. It’s also important to remember that we all experience stress at different times and in different ways. What causes stress for one person may not cause stress for another and what helps one person cope with stress may not help another. The key is to find what works for you.

There are many things that can cause us stress at work, such as:

  • unrealistic deadlines
  • workloads that are too heavy
  • lack of support from managers or colleagues
  • office politics
  • harassment or bullying
  • poor working conditions
  • job insecurity

Stress can also be caused by events outside of work including:

  • relationship difficulties
  • money worries
  • bereavement
  • illness
  • caring for someone

Stress can have a negative impact on our physical and mental health and can manifest as headaches, muscle tension or pain, dizziness, upset stomach, chest pain, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, problems with memory, negative or irrational thinking, anxiety, depression and irritability or short temper.

If we don’t recognise and manage stress, it can spiral and lead to more serious health problems so it’s in both the employer and employees best interest to try to deal with it and even better, prevent it.

There are a number of things we can do to manage stress:

  1. exercising
  2. eating a healthy diet
  3. getting enough sleep
  4. taking breaks during the day
  5. doing relaxation exercises
  6. talking to someone about how we’re feeling

It’s important to remember that we can’t always control the things that cause us stress. However, we can control how we deal with it. By taking steps to manage our stress, we can reduce its impact on our physical and mental health.

Change for Good

During my own career I have supported friends and employees on issues relating to drug & alcohol abuse, domestic violence, mental health conditions, anxiety, depression, bereavement, terminal illness, life-threatening illness, chronic depression, food disorders, divorce, relationship breakdowns, stillbirth, menopause, racism, stress at work and of course more recently due these unprecedented times, redundancies, furlough, navigating through a pandemic!

We aren’t always the professionals or experts on a given topic that may be a cause of stress, but how we handle situations can make positive differences to the long-term outcome of some of these life-changing events.

As an employer, we play such an important part in providing a safe environment that people feel that they can talk, share, have time off, seek advice, be non-judgemental and sometimes we also need to show some tough love.

In such a fast-paced modern world, we are bombarded with wars, horrific scenes and reports by the media, pandemics, mass shootings, Brexit, terrorism, poverty, homelessness, environmental issues such as global warming, a rise in mental health issues, recessions, the general cost of living, energy hikes, the high street closures, UN Goals deadline and the list goes on… it’s no wonder our everyday lives are filled with stress.

Whilst we can’t slow down the world and the fast paced environment in which we live, we can try and take the time ourselves to slow down, reflect, listen, observe, connect to people and nature. We strive and want to be a business that is a force for good, not solely focused on pipelines, goals and profit.

Having an understanding of the things that cause stress and recognising how it can manifest is something that will ultimately benefit our employees and our business.


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