Smiling black and white coworkers looking at camera in the office.

Mental health is a hot topic and for good reason. In recent years awareness around mental illness has grown and it’s no longer taboo to talk about it, even in the workplace.

Companies are more eager than ever to support their employee’s well-being, but where do you begin? In this article, we’ll look at how to implement mental health in the workplace so that employees can function at their happiest and most productive.

Open the conversation

Supporting employees through their mental health struggles always starts with a conversation. Often, employees come to work with the base assumption that mental health concerns are a private matter, and traditionally dealt with outside the office.

Opening the door to discussions and education on mental wellness requires breaking the silence around the topic because of the strong mental health stigma in the workplace.

Listen well

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, listening is just as important as opening the conversation in regards to mental health in the workplace. The article also recommends several tips to listen with compassion.

  • Listen with the intention of helping, not “fixing”
  • Be mindful of judgments
  • Don’t project your experiences onto theirs
  • Pay attention to how the person is feeling when they share about mental health struggles
  • Don’t offer advice as readily as you offer connection to professional support

Build a space

Conversations about mental health at work aren’t going to happen unless there’s a time and place carved out for them. Consider adding 10 minutes to the beginning of a staff meeting to open the floor to dialogue or education around the topic.

Breathing exercises, meditations, stretches and mindfulness practices are easy to teach and don’t require more than a few minutes. A chance to unwind in the office proves that a company is proactive about supporting mental health and minimizing stress.

Build a culture

Young prospective employees are all about company culture, and they’ll easily be able to tell for themselves whether a business advocates for mental health at work. Employers will attract the right employees when they have policies that are clear and promote overall well-being.

Some companies offer to reimburse a percentage of gym membership fees or exercise equipment, give extra time off for “mental health days” and have a designated spot in the building for meditation or a break from screens. Allow staff to collaborate on ideas that would benefit mental health in the workplace and boost employee satisfaction.

Offering adequate insurance coverage for medical expenses is also an important factor for employees. Many workers desire insurance plans that cover the cost of therapy for themselves or family members.

Provide resources

Your employees won’t know you’re serious about supporting mental wellness in the workplace until there are tools in place that back it up. Providing resources can go a long way in building up trust and getting employees connected to the help they need.

Providing resources doesn’t have to be a complex process. In fact, through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) your employees can access assistance in regards to work-related stress, family concerns, financial struggles, health conditions and so much more.

Support training

Hosting training or reimbursing staff for participating in professional development relating to mental wellness is one step you can take to address mental health in the workplace. Managers and supervisors especially should possess skills and knowledge to notice signs of distress and encourage other employees to seek treatment.

Why mental health in the workplace is important

Statistics regarding mental health in the workplace are telling. According to Mental Health America, depression is one of the most costly conditions to the United States economy, costing 51$ billion in absences and lost productivity. Untreated mental illness also affects employee retention and satisfaction, as well as job performance and burnout.

The best investment a company can make is the investment in its employees. There are dozens of avenues for how to implement mental health in the workplace, and the payout will be well worth the effort.

Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP can help you help your employees. Mazzitti & Sullivan offers services and solutions to all the stressors your employees face. Set your company up for success and get connected today at 800-543-5080.
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