Employers struggle to foster supportive work environments that focus on employees’ mental health. A recent survey conducted by Yoh revealed that 76% of employed Americans feel that employers have not prioritized the mental health of their workforce. This glaring statistics should serve as a wake-up call for employers pondering approaches to attract and retain top talent.
In this episode of our Back to Work podcast series, guest Janet Gerhard, Director of Public and Community Affairs at FHE Health, and host Joe McIntyre, discuss the necessity of mental health resources in the workplace and strategies to dismantle the stigma surrounding mental health dialogue.
What Can Employers Do to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace?
Employers can start by building mental health employee resource groups to foster inclusivity and enable honest discussions. For employees with urgent concerns, human resources should direct them to seek the help of behavioral health professionals. Although, a Yoh survey revealed that four in five employees are unaware of whether their employer offers mental health resources. Improved internal communication about company mental health resources is critical to ensure employees are taking advantage of available resources.
Employers should make a concerted effort to treat behavioral health issues of employees as a healthcare matter rather than a disciplinary matter. When employees exhibit telltale signs of behavioral health issues in the workplace (showing up late constantly, regularly calling out, and appearing distanced and unmotivated), employers should address the issue at the root. Lending a helping hand, rather than isolating underperforming employees, can help improve work outcomes and provide mental reassurance of their value as individuals.
What Can Employees Do to Improve their own Mental Health?
Employees can start by engaging in healthy habits like taking walks outside the office to breathe fresh air. Janet suggested learning how to breathe effectively through meditation to reflect and unwind properly. Ultimately, employees become stressed when they fail to take a step back. Untreated stress can lead to anxiety, and frequent anxiety can lead to panic attacks. Introducing healthy coping mechanisms in the workplace is a valuable tool all employees should acquire.
The advent of remote work set the stage for an unhealthy dynamic where employees tend always to be ‘connected.’ Even the simplest activity, such as checking e-mails after hours, can take away precious time that could be spent with family and friends. Janet prescribes setting clear boundaries by consciously trying to ‘unplug’ after work and indulge in healthy leisure activities. The benefits of being entirely ‘present’ in relaxation time with your family and friends cannot be understated in boosting one’s mental health.
Mental health discussions are often stigmatized in the workplace. Building communities within the workplace to have transparent conversations about mental health is vital to foster a supportive work environment. We make a conscious effort to see a doctor to maintain our physical health but often neglect to seek a psychiatrist to maintain our mental health. Promoting mental health should be a priority for any employer committed to improving the well-being of their employees.
Listen to the full podcast episode to learn more about mental health strategies to implement in the workplace.