Prioritizing Mental Health: What Employers Can Do To Improve Workplace Wellbeing
We all understand the importance of having access to good mental health resources in our personal lives — especially in times as taxing and turbulent as these.
In the workplace, however, access to adequate mental health resources is not always as available as it should be. Because mental health is such a personal issue, many employers struggle to perfect the balance between offering enough support and respecting their employees’ privacy.
Of course, privacy is important — but providing sufficient care is essential. Here’s why mental health is such an important issue in all workplaces (yours included!) and what you can do to start addressing your employees’ needs.
Some Mental Health Stats That Might Surprise You
Whether or not we are personally dealing with mental health issues, there’s no denying that we are all profoundly affected by the mental health of those around us.
According to the CDC, 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime.
Seems like a high number, doesn’t it?
The fact of the matter is, despite social stigmas that often cause people to conceal or disregard their own struggles, mental health issues are extremely prevalent amongst our coworkers, our friends, and our families.
And this isn’t an issue just in the United States. According to one Accenture survey published in the Harvard Business Review, out of 3,884 UK workers surveyed, and whopping 95% of respondents said they had been touched by mental health challenges, either their own or those of a friend, family member, or colleague.
How To Address Mental Health at Work
With the above in mind, it should be obvious why it’s so important to have mental health resources available in the workplace. Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to budget for an in-house therapist — there are plenty of simple ways to improve the wellbeing of your employees. Here are a few easy to implement ideas, if you’re unsure how to get started:
Name the issue — one of the biggest issues standing in the way of improving our wellness in the workplace is the stigmas that surround issues of mental health, and mental illness. By not only mentioning mental health at work, but creating an ongoing dialogue about it, you will create a space in which employees feel empowered to discuss their mental health, and to act in its best interest.
Promote senior support — workplace culture often starts from the top down; if employees don’t believe that senior staff members genuinely care about their wellbeing, they are less likely to feel comfortable discussing it. Creating a system of senior support — which could be as involved as a mentorship program, or as simple as an open door policy — tells employees that their workplace is a culture of caring, which will in turn improve not only their outlook, but also their output.
Make HR more accessible — make sure your employees understand how their HR department can help them in the event of a mental health crisis — it’s called human resources for a reason! Even outside of a crisis, ensuring employees feel comfortable asking for help from HR improves employee engagement and creates a more collaborative culture.
Create a positive workspace — research has shown time and again that employees function better in spaces they feel promote positivity (spaces with lots of natural light, for example). Of course, what’s positive for one office might not be for another — invite your employees to give input on what makes them happiest in their workspace.
Provide good benefits — this one seems like a bit of a no-brainer, but we’ll go over it in the next section anyway.
How Benefits Programs Can Help
De-stigmatizing mental health in the workplace will go a long way towards improving your employees’ well-being — but when it comes to really addressing and helping mental health issues, it’s essential that your employees can seek help outside of the workplace as well.
Having a robust benefits program will not only allow your employees the freedom to improve their mental health off the clock, it will also help them ease the trials and tribulations of their day-to-day work.
When it comes to finding a good benefits program, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why Benepass is working hard to make benefits easy. Not only do we allow employees to be fully flexible in how they engage with mental health, you’ll only pay for what employees end up using. Benepass also provides summary data on engagement, and we suggest things to employees based on popular options from other companies, so they don’t have to do the digging. Your benefits are safe with us — we also work hard to protect the privacy of your employees, verifying transactions ourselves so your employees don’t have to.
If you have any questions about how benefits can help improve employees' mental health, or you're interested in how we can help you demystify your benefits package, please reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.