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  • Is your garden centre doing enough to tackle mental health?

    The WHO predicts that by 2020 depression will be the second largest single cause of ill health in the world.  One in four people will experience mental health problems.

    For most of the population, work is a major part of our lives. Having a fulfilling job can be beneficial for not only your mental health, but also your general wellbeing.

    Occasionally, we all experience the overwhelming feeling of life getting on top of you. Whether that be work related, or due to personal circumstances.

    The value added to the economy by people who are at work and have or have had mental health problems is as high as £225 billion per year, which represents 12.1% of the UK’s total GDP.  Thus, it’s vital that we protect that value, by addressing mental health at work for those with existing issues.

    Mental health in Your Garden Centre

    It’s recognised that the environment in which garden centre employees work in can often go against the grain and overturn the evidence that nature and green space is beneficial to your health and well-being. The nature of work and isolation within the industry can lead to mental strain.

    The landscaping industry is predominantly made up of males. With a general stereotype of male traders being resilient about such issues. As an industry, garden centres along with landscapers can be conduit for change.

    Your business will undoubtedly feel the impact of mental health problems, when they arise.

    Whether you’re an independent garden centre or a large landscaping operation. There’s a plethora of ways that the stigma surrounding mental health can be tackled.

    Independent businesses are in a unique position in which they’re further likely to connect with their employees on more personal level. Working in proximity daily, allows you as an employer to notice subtle changes in the behaviour of your employees. Prompting you to ask the question “Are you okay?”

    With larger garden centre chains, this may not be a possibility. There are alternative ways to confront such issues. As an employer, a HR manager should be readily available for workers to speak to regarding matters surrounding mental health. Having systems in place which allow staff to feel at ease approaching a HR personnel is crucial.

    Garden centres should be focusing on understanding the diagnosis and making reasonable adjustments to work. Implementing information that points employees in the direction of where to seek professional support.

    Meetings and appraisals lend themselves perfectly for discussing personal issues which may be affecting work. It’s important create a secure environment. Where employees can talk in confidence and be met in an exploratory and nonjudgmental way.

    Communication is key. The recent awareness in mental health throughout all businesses has helped not only garden centres, but also the general population. If the leaders in the industry can open up about their own feelings, it reduces the stigma and encourages others to do the same.

    Training

    Garden centres should encourage an open-door policy. Permitting staff to talk in confidence to their line manager.

    Providing mental health first aid training can also be successful. It raises awareness and gets employees conversing with each other around the issue. “As well as helping to create a culture of openness in the work place, the training also led to positive action being taken, with 59% of anticipants reporting an increase in help-seeking behaviour.”

    Furthermore, an unhealthy work life balance can add to the pressure of the already demanding work culture. 40% of employees neglect other aspects of their life, due to work.  Promoting a healthy work life balance is vital. Particularly within the garden centre trade, as work can be incredibly demanding.

    When speaking to Steven Smith of MENtalk Podcast, Steven told us of his idea of setting up a help line to aid those in the industry. “It would be great if organizations took a small amount of their profit and used it to set up a call or text line. Members could speak with someone or have access to a therapist or group therapy sessions”. MENtalk was created with the idea of staring a public conversation about mental health, especially for men – making a less formal conversation, encouraging men to open up.

    An opportunity made up of people from the industry, would make those suffering feel less alone and isolated.

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