Mental Health Awareness Month – 5 Ways to Support Your Employees
Mental health challenges have always affected the workplace but, in the throes of COVID-19, it is even more pronounced. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and, this May, mental health is an issue that companies need to prioritize. With the world still in crisis, employees are dealing with higher levels of anxiety than usual. Nearly 47 million people in the U.S. have experienced a mental health condition and, with the stress of COVID-19, it’s likely some of your employees need to pay more attention to their mental health.
In a recent study from Pew Research Center, 73% of Americans have reported feeling anxious at least a few days a week since the pandemic began. Additionally, the Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a poll and found that 45% of adults say the pandemic has affected their mental health, with 19% describing it as a major impact.
A survey of employees by Ginger, a mental health provider, revealed some concerning statistics. In this survey, 69% of employees revealed that working during this pandemic has been the most stressful period of their career. 88% said they have experienced moderate to extreme stress over the past four to six weeks.
How Employers Can Help
There are many things employers can do to help alleviate their employees’ stress and demonstrate that they care about their wellbeing. Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to start taking action. Here are some suggestions:
- Taking Advantage of Technology. Many meditation, yoga, and relaxation apps have waived their paywall due to the crisis. Other online services, including virtual fitness programs, have also done this. Employers should take advantage of this and advocate for their employees to sign up for these services. Sending out an email encouraging your employees to download these apps and highlighting their mental health benefits is an easy way to help your employees.
- Work to Reduce the Stigma. This May, with the current crisis in mind, is the perfect opportunity to reduce the stigma of mental health in your workplace. The fear of stigma and facing ridicule at work often prevents employees from seeking mental healthcare. Use your employee wellness program to advocate for the importance of mental healthcare. Even consider normalizing the need for therapy even without a diagnosis.
- Increase Your Levels of Communication. Check-in with your employees. Ask them individually how they’re doing in light of the current crisis. Ensure confidentiality and let them know you’re checking in not just to ensure good work performance, but to ensure they’re doing well. Things won’t return to the way they were for quite some time, so be sure to maintain a strong level of communication even after things begin to return to normal.
- Show Empathy and Leadership. Employees are experiencing a heightened sense of uncertainty right now. Their health, financial situation, and employment don’t feel stable. Express empathy for your employees by reminding them to prioritize self-care. Remind them of the importance of taking regular breaks and engaging in relaxing activities outside of work.
- Prioritize Your Healthcare Benefits. Prioritize your employees’ entire health – their physical health, mental health, and financial health. Do this year-round, not just during a crisis. Increased levels of stress mean more doctor’s visits and healthcare services for your employees. This will increase costs for employers, so communicate to your team that you want them to take advantage of any benefits they need.
During Mental Health Awareness Month, be sure to take time to reflect on ways you can help support and improve the mental health of your company’s most valuable assets – your employees.
- Jones, Katie. “Mental Health In The Workplace: How Employers Can Support Their Greatest Asset.” Los Angeles Business Journal, 30 April 2020.
- Kohll, Alan. “5 Ways To Support Your Employees’ Mental Health During A Pandemic.” Forbes, 20 April 2020.
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