With as many as one in five American adults living with a mental health disorder and the ravages of the pandemic on everyone’s mental health, the need for mental health awareness in the workplace is at an all-time high. Awareness can increase personal recognition if someone is struggling with their mental health, and it can help dissolve the stigma that can prevent people from receiving proper care and treatment. Many organizations are experiencing the consequences of widespread mental health issues in their workforce, and want to help treat and prevent these diseases. Increasing mental health awareness, as well as increasing access to and lowering the cost of treatment, is an effective way for organizations to promote the well-being of their employees.
What is Mental Health Awareness?
Mental health awareness in the workplace includes education about mental illnesses, their causes, and treatments. It also includes a culture of acceptance and support. The lack of mental health awareness, while a problem, is quite understandable. There is an overarching stigma about mental health, mostly because poor mental health can be very scary for people who aren’t affected. Mental illness is also fairly intangible, and it can be difficult to discuss something that can’t be seen. Employees may feel scared that discussing their mental health issues will have negative consequences on their careers and reputation. And, supervisors might have good intentions but lack the skills and confidence to bring the subject up. Increasing mental health awareness will make it easier for those who need help to find it.
Suggestions for Improving Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace
Here are some suggestions for organizations that are interested in improving mental health awareness in the workplace.
Invest in solutions
Training supervisors to be emotionally supportive and increasing your organization’s healthcare offerings are strategic ways to invest in mental health. Not only do employees who feel cared for work more effectively and productively, but by offering more mental health care such as increasing in-network providers, increasing coverage for out-of-network mental health services, and eliminating or decreasing cost-sharing for mental health services, you make it easier for those who need treatment to receive it. These are tangible ways to invest in your employees’ receiving the care they need and preventing the loss of productivity that untreated mental health issues can cause.
Education for all employees
Education will raise awareness about what mental illnesses are, what causes them, and to prevent and treat them. Ways to support mental health are important for all employees, not just ones with a diagnosis. Frame your education around the idea that it’s acceptable to struggle with mental health. This will help employees to get the support they need, even if they don’t feel comfortable reaching out to their supervisor. Statistics clearly show that more than half of American workers don’t think their supervisors provide emotional support, or that they can talk to them about changing job stressors. Changing the culture like this starts from the top and includes training for supervisors on how to successfully communicate about mental health and ways to support job success.
Increase mental health support
There are many ways organizations can support their employees’ mental health. Wellness challenges are fun ways to increase employee engagement and physical health, which are both ways to increase good mental health. Sharing information about free resources like online mental health assessments, journaling programs, and mindfulness apps can be helpful. Make sure that you are also highlighting whatever mental health support is currently available through the organization.
Change the culture intentionally
Organizational culture must shift towards accepting and supporting those with mental health issues. Until employees feel safe, they will not speak up about their mental health struggles. Creating a culture with supportive supervisors able to have honest conversations with their employees about mental health will start dissolving the social stigma around mental health. Employees who are empowered to get support for their mental health are empowered to be top performers. Here are some ways to create a culture that is accepting of mental health issues:
- Empower supervisors to have safe conversations about mental health with education and training.
- Create a policy of encouraging supervisors to regularly check in with their team.
- Make it known that employees can go to their supervisors if they are struggling with their workloads or mental health.
- Ask for employee feedback about their supervisor’s support and how supported they feel about the organization overall.
- Use this feedback to inform new policies and practices around mental health awareness.
Wellness Challenges from BioFunctional Health Solutions (BHS)
Support your employees’ mental and physical health while showing how much your organization values them with customized wellness challenges from BHS. Not only do wellness challenges cut healthcare costs, but they also support good mental health. A fun field day is full of sunshine, exercise, play, and friends, all of which boost physical and mental health. Physical exercise can be as effective as medication for moderate depression. It’s also a highly effective treatment for anxiety. With steps/walking challenges or the powerful daily habits challenge, your employees will build better health together. Reach out to us today to get started.