As an organization leader, you can take steps to make your work environment more accepting for everyone. Here are a few examples about how to improve your company’s response to mental health.
Create inclusive policies
Policies are the only way to enact change, so evaluate your company’s formal processes to determine what you can do to support mental health initiatives. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified the following factors that can contribute to depression at work:
- Difficult job demand and expectations
- Long working hours
- Limited autonomy and control at work
- Lack of social interaction and support
- Unclear communication from leadership
Use these criteria to evaluate roles inside your organization and work with department leaders to find ways to alleviate stress. You might decide, for example, to reduce oversight and monitor the results to see if overall performance remains consistent.
Model healthy behaviors
Establish boundaries for when you’ll be available and set an example for your team when it comes to work-life balance: Use your vacation time, don’t check your email or phone when you aren’t working, and work the same number of hours that you expect from your team. If you feel comfortable sharing, it can also be beneficial to talk about taking a “mental health day,” or taking time off for healthcare appointments.
Offer leadership training
Mental health is more than just an HR issue. To instate meaningful improvements company-wide, the company culture must also evolve. Managers should receive sensitivity training to help them identify signs of mental illness and intervene if the situation demands. Senior leadership and C-suite executives should also participate in campaigns to raise awareness about the company’s mental health resources and support network.
Take an intersectional approach
Even though mental health conditions are stigmatized, they’re internationally pervasive across demographic lines. Some studies estimate up to 80% of the population will manage a diagnosable mental health condition at some point during their lifetime.
Despite its prevalence, mental health manifests differently for everyone and can intersect with other aspects of an individual’s identity—for example, a person’s gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, age, religion, generation, and socioeconomic background can all affect their mental health. Because of these differences, it might be helpful to engage your company’s diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) team when you evaluate your company’s mental health policies.
Start an employee resource group (ERG)
ERGs create a sense of belonging and psychological safety that are critical to employee retention and company culture. An ERG for caregivers, allies, and all employees across the mental health spectrum can connect employees with resources. Participation in the group should be voluntary and shouldn’t pressure anyone to disclose information about their health. Address your awareness campaign to the whole company, and don’t single anyone out.
Offer an employee assistance program (EAP)
Assistance programs encourage employees to seek help by removing financial and logistical barriers to care. Consider offering mental health screening, short-term counseling, access to stress management tools, and other services to support your team’s emotional wellness. Partnering with an outside organization can make these programs easy to set up, regulation-compliant, and cost-effective. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), every US $1 that’s applied to mental health treatment has a return of US $4 in improved health and productivity (2019).
Attitudes surrounding mental health at work are changing, and it’s acceptable by today’s standards to discuss these concerns, even in the most demanding professional settings. As visibility increases and therapy becomes normalized, employers are expected to offer benefits for mental health in addition to physical health. Millennials—the largest workforce segment in 2020—are 63% more likely to know how to access their company’s mental health resources and use this criterion to evaluate employers.
Gympass can help you design a new benefits package that supports employees’ mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. With one membership, employees gain access to thousands of gym partners, wellness apps, and online therapy with certified professionals. To learn more about our monthly membership plans, visit our website today.