Taking Mental Health Seriously in the Workplace

Mental health is a serious matter and contributes to how well an employee performs their job. For that reason, it is important for employers to help employees find a way to manage mental health conditions. Significant stress in the workplace can trigger serious physical and mental health problems.

As an employer, here are a few things you can consider.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)

EAP programs offer short-term help to employees who are experiencing symptoms and are in need of some kind of therapy. Many companies use these confidential programs as an addition to their overall benefits package. EAP services generally offer a predefined number of therapy or counseling sessions free of charge. This benefit is not intended as a long-term program, but rather a confidential place to go to help solve short-term challenges or to make a plan to solve longer-term challenge. This type of benefit helps employees take the first step in getting some help.

Encourage People Leaders to Talk with Employees

Regular one-to-one conversations or check-ins are great ways for people leaders to build relationships with employees. These relationships bring forth opportunities to recognize red flags of severe stress or changes in behaviors early on. Sometimes a little coaching is needed to get employees to take advantage of any programs or benefits available to them. First line managers are who employees trust the most, so keep an open dialog and watch for red flags.

Promote Work-Life Balance

Everyone needs a break and to step away from the stress at work or at home. Burnout is a real problem in our world today. Consider these approaches to promote work-life balance:

  • Encourage time off – Paid time off is the best choice here. If an employee is concerned about cash flow and won’t get paid if they take time off, they likely won’t.
  • Allow for downtime and breaks during work hours – Walking meetings, meditation breaks, no meeting hours, or just coffee break when employees are in the office are effective ways to ensure they get some downtime.
  • Practice active listening – Listen, listen, listen. Just allowing time to discuss or even to vent a little helps release some of the stress not matter what the source.
  • Have Zero Tolerance for toxicity in the workplace – A toxic work environment should never be tolerated. This adds stress on top of stress. Manage the bad behaviors and don’t allow them in your environment.
  • Encourage mindfulness – Deep breathing and meditation are great ways to detach from the stress. Some meditations take less than five minutes to complete, but bring significant value to your mindfulness.

The stressors that come at us from every direction these days are real. The more we work together to help alleviate the stress and build coping mechanisms, the better we can perform, be productive, and enjoy work.