Mental health has long been considered a sensitive subject – one that you didn’t talk about in your home, let alone your place of work. In these turbulent times, however, opinions are changing and this critical topic is increasing in importance as we learn to cope with new social challenges, post-election stresses, and economic anxieties. People are beginning to talk about, take charge of, and even prioritize their emotional wellbeing, and employers are realizing the dramatic relevance mental health has on multiple levels. They’re adjusting their policies, creating new initiatives, and taking part in conversations that will change the way mental health is seen in the workplace now and in the future.

Here are a few of the key takeaways on how you, too, can join these progressive organizations and participate in the crusade to better care for, improve, and understand your employees’ mental health.

    • Promote better means of communication between management and employees. In one study, 23% of employees were more likely than not to experience a mental health disorder due to lack of communication by their superiors. Communication between employers and employees can be a vital tool to ease anxiety, help reduce the stigma, and increase the flow of asking for help.
    • Foster a culture that is rooted in respect, openness, and trust. This means respecting all members of the staff, listening to employee complaints, avoiding micromanagement, appreciating hard work, and allowing employees flexibility in their schedules. Extending people the respect and trust that they deserve can go a long way in minimizing unnecessary stress, anxiety, and burnout in the workplace.
    • Allow employees a certain number of mental health days. Built-in mental health days will demonstrate to employees that their overall health is being taken into consideration, and it will also give them much-needed time to relax, recharge, and spend time with friends or family.
    • Host workshops dedicated to managing stress and anxiety. Offer a variety of different sessions with topics like mindfulness, breathing exercises, resilience, and meditation to teach employees how they can ease work- and home-related stresses on their own. These workshops can be held in-person or remotely, so they’re a great option for any type of workplace.
    • Encourage employees to get moving. The link between exercise and positive mental health is substantial, with individuals who exercise reporting 1.5 fewer days of poor mental health per month, compared to individuals who don’t exercise. Hold weekly workout classes or step challenges, and your employees’ mental and physical wellbeing will thank you. 
    • Offer free self-assessment tools and educational materials to employees. These materials can allow individuals to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, and in turn, may encourage them to understand others’ struggles or to seek help themselves.

Let’s face it – mental health is important, especially during difficult times like these. Everyone can use a little extra support, and the suggestions above are just a few ways that employers can offer a helping hand to reduce the stress and anxiety that comes with working in 2021. Take the first step at your workplace and reduce the stigma – it’s what your employees deserve.

 

Sources: CDC, Harvard Business Review, Time