May 10th – 16th is Mental Health Awareness week, a chance to advocate for increased understanding and decreased stigma surrounding mental health. It’s also the perfect opportunity to pause and consider how your company supports the mental health of employees.
The statistics about mental health in the workplace are startling. In the United States, 57% of workers have reported feeling stressed every day, and one million people miss work each day in America due to stress. Workplace stress costs US businesses up to $300 million every year, and depression costs them anywhere from $31 billion to $51 billion annually.
Not only do mental health concerns lead to financial losses in your business, but they also cost you your people. In a survey on mental health, 80% of employees reported that they would quit a job for one that better supports their mental health. Another 2020 report revealed that 1 in 5 employees have quit a job because their employer didn’t care about their wellbeing.
The Role of Mental Health in Our Overall Wellbeing
Mental health is a key contributor to our overall wellbeing, and the benefits of strong mental health are many. Psychologically, it leads to better resilience and emotional regulation. Physically, it decreases your risk for a number of chronic diseases and increases your longevity. On the flip side, poor mental health contributes to a variety of conditions that include diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even arthritis.
How Can You Engage Employees This Week?
To help you make the most of Mental Health Awareness Week, we’ve compiled a week’s worth of resources. Each day includes a mental health-related quote and a discussion prompt. You’ll also find engagement ideas that can be used for both in-person and remote employees. Use email, communication channels, or your Walker Tracker discussion boards to promote positive discussion about mental health.
Inspire: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” -Baha’U’Llah.
Discuss: What steps do you take to prevent feelings of loneliness or isolation?
Engage: Encourage employees to recognize and celebrate one another today. Create a new Slack channel or share a Padlet that is designed with the sole intention of providing the opportunity to share positive things about one another.
Inspire: “Mental health problems don’t define who you are. They are something you experience. You walk in the rain and you feel the rain, but you are not the rain.” — Matt Haig
Discuss: How do you advocate for and support others when you see them experiencing mental health challenges?
Engage: Share a link to virtual screening tools, such as this set from Mental Health America.
Inspire: “You are the one thing in this world, above all other things, that you must never give up on. When I was in middle school, I was struggling with severe anxiety and depression and the help and support I received from my family and a therapist saved my life. Asking for help is the first step. You are more precious to this world than you’ll ever know.” — Lili Rhinehart
Discuss: Who is someone you can turn to when you need a listening ear? What makes someone a good support person?
Engage: Share a personal story from someone in the company who is comfortable speaking about their experiences with mental health struggles. This will be especially powerful if it comes from a person in leadership. Whether they share a typed testimonial or record a short Loom video, the goal is to reinforce the idea that almost all of us face mental health challenges at one point or another.
Inspire: “It is okay to have depression, it is okay to have anxiety and it is okay to have an adjustment disorder. We need to improve the conversation. We all have mental health in the same way we all have physical health.” — Prince Harry
Discuss: What actions do you take to unplug and let your mind relax?
Engage: Schedule a mindfulness class. You can find free classes online or hire a professional to lead the session. Block out the time on your company calendar to avoid scheduling any meetings during the time, and send a recording for people who can’t attend during the live session.
Inspire: “It’s up to you today to start making healthy choices. Not choices that are just healthy for your body, but healthy for your mind.”― Steve Maraboli
Discuss: What challenges have you overcome in making healthy choices for your body and mind?
Engage: Host a ‘lunch and learn’ with a mental health professional. You may entice more to attend by splurging for a catered lunch for on-site staff or sending out food delivery gift cards for remote employees. Consider awarding wellness points to all those in attendance as well.
Continuing the Conversation
Observing Mental Health Awareness Week in your workplace should be a small part of your overall efforts to support the emotional and mental well-being of your employees. If you don’t already have one, it’s time to create and implement a long-term mental health support plan. An effective plan might include:
- frequent communication about available mental health resources, including your employee assistance program.
- empathetic leadership.
- policies that support a healthy work-life balance.
- flexibility in work schedules.
- strategies for removing the stigma surrounding mental health.
Did you know that every dollar you invest in treating and supporting employee mental health is typically returned fourfold? Unfortunately, less than half (47%) of employees know about their company’s mental health resources and only 38% feel comfortable using those services. By consistently communicating about available resources, you can go a long way in providing much needed support. Employee health is an asset, both in a personal and professional sense, and it’s time we start treating it as such. For more ideas, consider these five suggestions from a recent Gallup article.