August 22, 2023

Mental health can feel like a complex term – here is a breakdown. Your employees’ mental health includes how they think, feel and act. It also includes emotional and social well-being.

A key distinction – mental health includes mental illness, but the two are not the same. A period of poor mental health does not equate to a diagnosable mental illness. Employee’s mental health can change over time. It often depends on factors such as workload, stress and work-life balance.

The numbers on mental health can feel bleak. A study by Deloitte revealed that 20% of US adults experience mental illness every year. But less than half receive treatment. Mental illness is also the leading cause of disability in the workplace.

The reality – employees in your organization are experiencing mental health challenges. It is vital to create a culture that supports employees’ mental health.

If this sounds complicated, take a breath. Here is a breakdown of five ways your company can support your people and their mental health.

Stigma Free Awareness.

Step one is destigmatizing mental health or illness in the workplace. Provide resources and information that help employees learn more about mental health or mental illnesses.

Talk openly about mental health and how to seek help. Employees will be more comfortable with the concept and reach out to managers or co-workers when they are struggling.

You can also establish a workplace environment that is supportive of mental health by:

  • Encouraging regular social support groups
  • Setting up an anonymous portal for seeking help
  • Providing training on problem solving, effective communication and conflict resolution
  • Promoting your employee assistance program (EAP)

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Work-life balance, or a lack thereof, can affect an employee’s mental health. Employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility to help employees balance their work and personal lives.

One important note – remote work does not work for every organization. Some industries, such as manufacturing, need their workers on site.

Workplace flexibility can take a variety of forms including flextime, telecommuting, unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies and more. The end goal is to create schedules for your people that create more balance —leading to improved job satisfaction, health and stress levels.

Address Workplace Stress

Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased employee fatigue, irritability and health problems. It is impossible to eliminate job stress, but it can be managed.

Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.

Here are ways to reduce employee stress and improve employees’ mental health, morale and productivity.

  • Make sure that workloads are appropriate.
  • Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions immediately—do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors.
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.

Evaluate Your Benefits Offerings

Review the benefits you offer. Do they support mental well-being? Do your current health plan designs cover mental health services? A a culture that supports employee mental health must align with benefits that do the same.

Voluntary benefits can be a valuable tool to support mental well-being. Consider offering simple perks like financial planning assistance (as financial stress often contributes to poor mental health), employee discount programs (where employees can receive gym memberships, stress-reducing massages or acupuncture at a lower cost) and EAPs to support your employees.

If you are unsure of how to start evaluating your benefits, check out this quick post and download a mental health scorecard to get started.

Provide Mental Health Training for Managers

Managers are your frontlines for mental health support. Often, they are more connected to their teams than the human resources staff. They are more in tune with their employees’ mental health and can identify when they are struggling.

It is vital to train management so that they can implement a wide range of mental health-related skills with confidence:

  • Helping employees navigate to the proper resources for their challenge
  • Knowing the difference between and emergency and a mental health challenge
  • Identifying coworkers who are struggling and providing support
  • Becoming leaders in mental health conversations throughout the workplace.

For More Information

Mental health is one of the most significant challenges for your people. Supporting them is a fantastic opportunity to create a workplace that is safe and empowers them to thrive. If you would like more information on how to get started, we have a free toolkit to get you started. Just click below.

Your Free Toolkit