More than ever before, workplaces are focusing on employee mental health. Whether these mental health initiatives are borne out of the organization’s mission and values or in response to increased need in the midst of a global pandemic, employees who have support when it comes to their mental health are happier, more fulfilled and more productive workers.
In fact, there are lots of benefits for supporting mental health care for your staff, including:
- Increased productivity
- Strong company culture
- Increased staff retention
- Higher staff satisfaction
- Decreased healthcare costs
Mental health and physical health are linked, so if we neglect our mental health it follows that our physical health will also suffer. According to the American Heart Association, when it comes to supporting staff mental health, “the cost of doing nothing is higher than investing in evidence-based prevention and treatment.”
So how can you support your staff’s mental health?
In the workplace, if you want vulnerability to be valued and practiced, you have to model it for your employees first. Make it clear that you value vulnerability and see it as something to be embraced rather than avoided. Mental health is a vulnerable subject, and the signal that it’s not taboo in the workplace has to come from you. When you initiate the conversations, check-ins, offerings of support, etc. it helps to show your staff that embracing vulnerability is a priority in your workplace.
Model good self-care habits
How is it you want to encourage staff to care for their mental health? There are some things you as an employer can do directly (offering benefits, etc.) but you can also make prioritizing mental health part of the culture in your workplace. Share with your team when you’re taking a walk outside for a break or logging out of your email for the day, and ask them in return what they’re doing to take care of themselves that day.
Don’t wait for them to come to you
It would be wonderful if everyone would speak up when they need support, but that isn’t always the case. Some people don’t feel confident enough in themselves or their value to get vulnerable enough to ask for help. That’s why it’s important that you as a leader make those check ins a regular part of your workplace routine. Check in with your staff with more than a quick “how’s everybody doing?” Offer suggestions for support, ask them specific questions about what they need from you or the team, etc. This will also help to build a culture that values connection and teamwork.
Be flexible and open to feedback
Don’t make assumptions about what your team needs. They might really need something that never would have occurred to you – be receptive to feedback that may seem unexpected. Try not to react with defensiveness when people have feedback or suggestions for how to support them better and be inclusive of their diverse needs.
Provide mental health benefits
If you offer benefits, make sure that there are options for mental health along with physical health. Having these benefits is the most direct way you can support your staff’s mental health, while others on this list focus more on shifting the culture of your workplace to one where addressing mental health is destigmatized. But direct benefits help your team access professional care, which will have the largest impact on their overall health! See if you can team up with an EAP program or offer a stipend for mental health expenses.