How Can Hospitals Promote Better Mental Health at Work?

Work related stress is a serious risk factor for hospitals and healthcare providers in New Zealand.

In a healthcare or hospital setting, nurses and other healthcare professionals are exposed to many different risk factors that can affect their mental health.  Stress, bullying and harassment have all been identified as major contributors to psychological injury.

Fortunately, although this is a growing challenge, substantial research is also being done to help manage mental health in the workplace.

Below we’ve highlighted some of the key tips hospitals and healthcare employers are currently implementing to better manage mental health at work.

Identify Mental Health Risks

Although there are many red flags which may indicate someone is at risk, these can be highly subjective and difficult for people to self-identify.

People experiencing symptoms of a psychological injury often associate the symptoms with normal mood swings or aging.

Hospitals can counter this by encouraging employees to report workplace stress factors (e.g. work demand, low control, poor support, lack of role clarity, organisational culture) rather than symptoms. These are less subjective, so easier to identify.

Hospital administrators or employers can also help their staff assess their mental health condition by providing information to build awareness, or organising professional mental health screenings.

Improve Work Environment and Organisation

Hospital staff typically spend at least eight hours a day at work, often under high pressure conditions, so it’s important that they work in a healthy environment. Stress is naturally part of the job, but there are ways to reduce stress by improving the work environment.

Aside from maintaining cleanliness, things like painting walls with positive murals and messages can also improve not just the environment, but also elevate the moods of staff and promote positive conversations.

Implementing good work organisation also helps promote better mental health. Hospitals can provide clearer job descriptions, modify workloads, improve communication between staff and their leaders, create support groups, give recognition and awards, and ensure career development opportunities.

Other ways of helping staff distress include providing access to yoga classes or meditation and relaxation sessions, which they can take part in during their break or after their shift.

Introduce Training Programs

Hospital administrators/owners can also introduce different training programmes that promote mental health amongst healthcare workers.

Access to training that promotes resilience is proving effective as a way of reducing the risk of psychological injury in the workplace, with many employers now coupling annual health and safety training with resilience training.

Bullying and occupational violence are both major sources of workplace stress in hospitals. Every hospital should ensure all employees understand the procedures for reporting incidents. These policies and procedures should be promoted during employee induction and refreshed through regular training.

In addition, hospitals can introduce acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) to their staff. This has been proven to be an effective training program for improving mental health.

If you would like to have a discussion with GB about what action plans are available to improve the mental health and wellbeing of your workplace, contact us today and download the flyer below to help raise awareness of depression in your workplace.