More than ever, supporting employee mental health is a pressing issue for organizations. Human resource teams and organizations must make it a priority to design and implement supportive work environments that productively promote mental health and employee well-being.
There’s no denying that employee mental health support is essential — research suggests that over half the population will be diagnosed with a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime. If you run an organization, now is the time to prioritize supporting employees with mental health issues, as this can have an effect on the entire company if not addressed.
Here, you’ll learn how to support employees’ mental health by creating a positive workplace culture that values mental health. You’ll discover practices your company can implement to foster increased productivity, reduce turnover rates, and employ happier employees.
Continue reading to learn more about how to support your employees' mental health.
1. Build a supportive workplace culture
Fostering an atmosphere that encourages mental well-being is a critical component of establishing employee mental health support. When you create a culture of open dialogue, teamwork, and acceptance, you can support employees in the best ways possible. Creating this environment doesn’t take that much, either.
Promote work-life balance
Mental health support for employees helps people establish work-life balance by encouraging things like:
- Taking breaks throughout the day
- Setting boundaries between personal and professional responsibilities
- Offering flexible working hours
- Giving remote work options when possible
Encourage open communication
When employees feel comfortable opening up about concerns or challenges without fear of judgment, they’ll be more prone to do so. You can ensure communication is valued by:
- Checking in with teams regularly
- Implementing one-on-one meetings with staff
- Using anonymous feedback channels to provide a safe space for issues to be voiced
- Providing workplace support to help cope with ongoing current events as needed
Offer employee wellness programs
Incorporating employee mental health support through wellness programs can boost morale and mental health, improving performance and job satisfaction. Common components of employee wellness programs may include:
- Mindfulness programs help reduce stress levels — for example, you can offer mindfulness workshops or provide employees with free apps for guided meditation
- Physical wellness initiatives encourage employees to stay active — consider offering gym memberships, hosting team sporting events, or providing standing desks
- Nutrition education through workshops or seminars to promote healthy eating habits — provide nutritious snacks for employees to enjoy throughout the workday
The benefits of employee wellness programs impact your employees and organization.
2. Equip managers with mental health training
To foster a genuinely supportive work environment, managers must be trained on how to improve mental health in the workplace. With the proper skills and knowledge, managers and supervisors can recognize and address mental health concerns in their teams. Training will increase employee well-being and contribute to productivity and overall job satisfaction. Train leaders throughout an organization with the following tips.
Organize regular seminars or workshops that mental health experts lead. Sessions could cover topics like:
- How to recognize symptoms of common mental health conditions
- Understanding workplace stress
- Active listening skills
- Effective communication strategies
- Guidance on available company resources
Creating resource hubs
Design and launch a dedicated hub for managers to access relevant and helpful materials and resources. You could share things that focus specifically on managing employee mental health effectively and productively, including:
Incorporating scenario-based learning into training
Knowing how to support employees’ mental health might involve using real-life case studies during training sessions. This allows managers to practice applying their newly acquired skills so they’ll be better equipped to deal with employees coming to them in the future. You can focus on situations where employees might be:
- Experiencing emotional distress
- Exhibiting warning signs of a mental health concern
- Facing interpersonal conflict
- Struggling with workplace conflict
Offering ongoing support
Encourage supervisors and managers to seek guidance from HR support or a mental health professional if they encounter situations they aren’t sure how to navigate. This ensures they’re confident in addressing any issue that comes before them and that employees receive the appropriate level of care.
3. Validate employees’ mental health concerns
Validating employees’ mental health concerns is essential. Acknowledging their experiences helps create an environment of trust and support within the workplace. In addition, employees will feel heard and understood.
Create open-door policies
Open-door policies encourage employees to trust that open dialogue about concerns can be had without fear of retribution. They foster transparency and help address problems before they escalate.
Demonstrating empathy within employee mental health support will go a long way. Be sure to listen actively, ask questions, communicate, and, when appropriate, offer support.
Acknowledge feelings, but don’t judge
Take care not to dismiss employees who come to you for help. Ensure they know their feelings are important and valid. Avoid comparisons — focus on understanding each case as its own. Above all, respect confidentiality and make sure employees trust their privacy will be honored.
Supporting employees by offering flexible working hours or remote work options. Make resources or support available. Of course, connecting them with professional mental health services can also be beneficial.
“Employers can help employees by supporting their mental health. By doing so they are facilitating the employees to be more productive at work. They can offer flexible working hours, work from home options, and paid time off (PTO). This can create an atmosphere at work that shows they value their employees' mental and physical health.” - Talkspace therapist Bisma Anwar, LPC, LMHC
4. Provide a safe space for conversations
It is crucial that management learns how to talk about mental health at work. Creating safe spaces for private and confidential conversations will be vital in establishing trust between employer and employee. When employees are encouraged to share and offered a safe place to do so, the results can be game-changing. You can make sure employees trust the process by:
- Offering regular check-ins
- Encouraging employees to open up
- Guaranteeing confidentiality
- Being empathetic
5. Offer resources for employees
Further foster emotional well-being by ensuring employees know about and have access to resources. The following services and tools can help people learn to manage employee stress and cope with emotional challenges healthily. Your organization can offer:
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which are designed to help address personal issues that could interfere with work and professional relationships
- Counseling services with therapists who specialize in workplace-related stress and preventing employee burnout
- Apps that promote positive mental health, like guided meditation apps, mantra or affirmation apps, or workout apps
- Online platforms like Talkspace that provide therapy for employees
6. Reduce workplace stress
Reducing workplace stress can have a significant impact on employee mental health. Implement the following strategies to create a supportive environment where employees are at their best, more productive, and mentally healthy.
- Make job expectations very clear
- Promote and enforce work-life balance
- Offer workload management support
- Provide stress management resources
7. Address stigma and discrimination
Addressing stigma and discrimination is a massive component of supporting employee mental health and well-being. These negative aspects can have a profound effect on organizations, contributing to a decrease in productivity metrics, an increase in absenteeism, and a reduction in job satisfaction.
Confront these issues by implementing and enforcing policies that define and promote inclusivity and acceptance of mental health.
- Establish anti-discrimination policies that prohibit harassment based on mental health status
- Promote education awareness about mental health topics through workshops, seminars, webinars, and guest speakers
- Create peer support networks so employees can connect with colleagues and others who understand their experiences to reduce feelings of isolation
- Monitor workplace culture for discrimination related to mental health
- Conduct anonymous surveys to increase employee engagement around the topic and gather feedback to assess how effective your mental health policies are
“Despite the fact that conversations about mental health have increased in recent years, stigma remains a pervasive barrier in workplaces. The majority of employees and employers report mental health stigma in the workplace. Many workers are hesitant to disclose a mental health condition, even in the most progressive workplaces. They are worried that talking openly about them will hurt their reputation, compromise their relationships at work, or even put their job in danger. This can keep workers from looking for help and improving.” Bisma Anwar, LPC, LMHC
8. Implement accessible mental health solutions
Implementing accessible mental health solutions can help reduce barriers so employees are more likely to get the help they need.
- Flexible work arrangements can promote positive mental health through a work-life balance that reduces stress levels
- Mental health days send a message that a company values employee self care
- Mental health platforms (like Talkspace) can create a convenient and accessible way for employees to address their mental health needs without having to take time away from work
Provide clinical support for employees with Talkspace
Supporting your employees’ mental health in the workplace is critical today. Fortunately, technology and a solid plan can make the process simple and effective for organizations.
If you’re wondering how to help employees with mental health, consider employing an online platform like Talkspace to connect employees with licensed, experienced therapists and mental health professionals, ensuring help is convenient and easy to get.
- “About Mental Health.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, June 28, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/index.htm