How Can You Support Mental Health in the Workplace?
While living through a pandemic can be generally characterized as a really challenging time, there is one amazing thing that arose in the last few years: more and more people are prioritizing their mental health. The pandemic allowed people to slow down and reflect on what really matters in life and what they want for themselves, their families, and the places where they work. This shift has allowed businesses to engage in more open and supportive conversations about mental health and wellness with their employees. Conversations between HR, employees, and senior leadership about mental health are no longer considered to be taboo but are considered quintessential.
The last few years intensified challenges in mental health for everyone, even those that considered themselves to be on solid ground beforehand. When you foster a workplace that supports and engages in conversations about mental health, you not only show your employees you support and value them as individuals, but you also help to decrease the general stigma around mental health.
How can you best support mental health in the workplace? Supporting your employees in their mental health and wellness is more important than ever. The best approach to supporting your employees can be summed up in a three-pronged methodology:
Acknowledgment shows your employees that it’s okay to disclose any mental illnesses at work if they wish to do so. By addressing what has previously been considered to be the elephant in the room, you show your employees that you value and appreciate them. Mental illnesses can be challenging, but they aren’t weaknesses. Acknowledge your employees’ condition, let them know that you respect them, and above all, that you appreciate their willingness to be open. Being vulnerable can be pretty scary for anyone, especially when speaking with your boss. Show your team that their ability to be vulnerable is considered to be a strength.
After you have acknowledged any concerns that your employee has disclosed to you, you need to discuss what your company offers them. First, familiarize yourself with what benefits your business offers specifically related to mental health. You may even find an opportunity for growth when doing so and can find even more benefits to offer in which you can support your employee's overall mental health even more. When a member of your team shares that they have a mental illness or mental health concern, let them know the different benefits and resources that are available to them. Thoroughly explain the offerings that your company provides.
The final prong of this methodology is accommodations. You can let your employees know that they can request reasonable accommodations for their mental health concerns and that their information will remain confidential. This is another opportunity to take a deep dive into your current accommodations and ensure that they meet the ever-evolving needs of your employees. What can your company do to accommodate your employees? Offer work from home days with the option for virtual meetings? Encourage and support PTO requests? Establish an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? Offer a fitness stipend or pay for meditation apps? There are so many possibilities for supportive and encouraging ways to accommodate your employees.
Now more than ever, employees are requiring more from their employers when it comes to whole human health. People are experiencing burnout like never before, your employees want to actually use their PTO and spend time with their friends and families, and your team members want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. When you embrace the new challenges that arose from the pandemic and prioritize the mental health of your team, you not only show your employees that you genuinely care about them, but you also set your company up for success. People who feel valued and appreciated are more productive and invested in their jobs, and that’s a win for everyone.