May is officially mental health awareness month! According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 76% of U.S. workers reported at least one symptom of a mental health condition and 84% said their workplace conditions had contributed to at least one mental health challenge.
Given this data, it is essential to prioritize mental health in the workplace. Here are the top 3 ways to approach mental health in the workplace:
1. Create a Culture of Openness
The first step in addressing mental health in the workplace is to create a culture of openness and trust. This means encouraging employees to speak openly about any challenges they face without fear of stigma, discrimination, or even losing their job. Employers can achieve this by implementing policies that encourage employees to take care of their mental health, such as offering flexible work arrangements and breaks throughout the day. Anonymous surveys can also help employees feel comfortable discussing problem areas. In addition, intentional 1:1 check-ins with management can create a space where employees feel comfortable expressing their stressors at work.
2. Provide Mental Health Resources
Providing access to mental health resources is essential for addressing mental health in the workplace. This includes offering lifestyle spending accounts like ClubHealth, which encourage employees to engage with expertly-vetted mental health tools. Employers can also consider partnering with mental health organizations to offer resources such as mental health training for executive staff.
3. Reduce Stigma Around Mental Health
Reducing stigma around mental health is essential for promoting mental health in the workplace. This can be achieved by upper management discussing mental health often, especially when talking about deadlines and company goals. For example, when drafting a project timeline, a manager could say, “I recognize that this timeline is ambitious and could create a lot of stress. For this reason, we are extending the deadline a few extra days so we don’t cause unnecessary stress.” Or, when discussing company goals, “Our goal is to automate this process so that we can become more efficient as a company, so you can focus on tasks that are more meaningful to you.”
Mental health in the workplace is an essential issue that employers cannot afford to ignore. By creating a culture of openness, providing mental health resources, and reducing stigma around mental health, employers can promote a healthy and supportive workplace environment. This, in turn, can improve employee well-being, job satisfaction, and productivity, while reducing absenteeism, turnover, and other negative consequences of poor mental health.