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Mental Health in the Workplace

Posted by Spitfire Communications on Dec 6, 2022 9:30:00 AM
Mental Health in the Workplace

When it comes to supporting employees’ mental health in the workplace, the only thing more crucial than communication is action. And, for many employers, a concerted commitment to mental well-being is tied directly to the overall health of the business. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that employee depression accounts for 200 million lost workdays each year and costs employers up to $44 billion. And, outside of the day-to-day cost of distress in the workplace, the toll depression can take on an organization’s culture paves the path for unhappy employees, decreased retention and increased turnover across the board. 

On the flip side, employers who invest in their employees’ mental health see four times the financial return for their business. 


In short: It’s always a good time to prioritize mental health in the workplace, and below we’ll walk you through “how.” 


Ask Employees… and Listen 

The first step is a free and effortless flow of two-way communication. Start by asking employees what they’re struggling with and create an environment where they feel comfortable bringing up their mental health concerns. Let your leaders set the example by making it clear that it’s not off limits or taboo to have these types of conversations at work. 

Employees’ feelings and emotions should be treated as valid and valued, with a consistently reinforced message that leaders, managers and coworkers are there to listen and help. And, if they can’t help, they can direct these employees to the resources that can. 


Maintain Workplace Policies That Promote Mental Well-Being

From flexible work environments to blackout periods on e-mail or Slack after hours, Employee Assistance Programs, mandatory vacation days, outdoor or “walking” meetings and mindfulness (such as yoga and meditation) in the workplace, ensure policies that promote mental well-being are promoted and participated in. This helps employees feel their time and mental energy are being valued by their employer. 


Remind Workers About Available, Easily Accessible Resources 

In many cases, employees are unaware of the wealth of benefits and resources they have available through their employer to help with their mental health. Continuously remind employees of these offerings and keep informational literature and resources readily available on a shared drive or other portal that’s easy to access for all employees. 


Create a Culture That Fosters Positive Mental Health 

Creating and promoting a company culture that supports positive mental health for employees is one of the most important steps an organization can take: 

  • Approach performance management with an emphasis on support:

    • Start with standing, unstructured check-ins between managers and direct reports, focusing discussions on well-being, work and anything standing in the way of positive mental health in the workplace. Explore how higher ups can best support their team members and transition these conversations into personalized plans that factor in performance, growth and overall well-being. 

  • Facilitate real conversations:

    • Create space for honest, open conversations about financial wellness, mental health barriers, employee burnout, personal goals, etc. Whatever employees bring to the table, let there be a place for it to be discussed. 

  • Help leaders influence the culture:

    • The more positive and proactive your team leaders can be when it comes to workplace mental health and well-being, the more likely the rest of your team is to get on board. Educate and train your leaders on understanding and addressing mental health issues and arm them with the skills and tools they need to inspire positivity and initiate open, solutions-oriented conversations about mental health. 


Don’t Forget the Dependents 

To foster holistic mental health and wellness in the workplace, it’s vital to take employees’ family members into account. Ensure employees can access the mental health care they need for their dependents by initiating basic educational outreach about available benefits and resources that can help. Encourage them to take advantage of these offerings and be supportive and discreet, so trust is inherently built into the process. 


CDC Guidelines on Mental Health at Work 

Another useful resource for approaching mental health at work are the guidelines recommended by the CDC in September of 2022, which include:

  • Organizational interventions
  • Individual interventions 
  • Mental health screening programs 
  • Manager training for mental health
  • Training for workers in mental health literacy and awareness
  • Returning to work after absence associated with mental health conditions

Take a Proactive Approach to Mental Wellness 

By proactively investing time and resources into employees’ mental well-being, employers can come together and do their part to address the current mental health epidemic

And it’s not just about the benefits these organizations offer, it’s about how leaders lead by example to establish a healthy work/life balance and are open and honest about their own mental well-being. 

Above all else, the onus is on employers to build a safety net for employees, making it clear that there will be no repercussions for taking the personal time and accessing the available resources that help them prioritize their mental health. 


Tags: Employee Communications, HR Communications, Employee Engagement, Open Enrollment, Human Resources, internal communications, communication strategy, Employee Marketing, culture, wellness, 2022, eap

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