This post is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
Ways to Enhance Mental Health In The Workplace – There’s evidence pointing to a mental health crisis in the American workplace. According to one recent study on mental health and work, more than 70 million American adults are suffering from mental illnesses that amount to almost $190 billion dollars in annual healthcare costs and lost productivity.
While many in the workforce will turn to online therapy or traditional in-person therapy, there are many ways employers and employees can help each other to create a work environment that better supports everyone’s mental health. Let’s take a look at six ways to get started making mental health a priority in the workplace.
Ways to Enhance Mental Health In The Workplace
- Raise Awareness Of Mental Health Resources
Sometimes people need help, they just don’t know where to find it. Research the amount of mental health spending available in the company’s insurance plan. Make sure people are aware of all the potential benefits your company provides.
Providing a way for employees to pay for mental health care is one of the best steps to take, but it’s not always viable depending on health insurance and budgetary limitations. Research public and free resources recommended by therapists and publish important emergency mental health support lines. There are a number of suggested helplines that may be able to provide life-saving services to those in need. Mention important resources regularly, and be sure to add the correct resources in the context of discussing a specific mental health crisis.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988
- Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- Veterans Crisis Line: Call 1-800-273-8255 (and press 1) or text 838255. For support for the deaf and hard of hearing community, please use your preferred relay service, or dial 711 then 1-800-273-8255.
- Trevor Lifeline (LGBT Lifeline): (866) 488-7386
- SAMHSA National Helpline (Substance Use): (800) 662-4357
- National Eating Disorder Association Helpline :1-800-931-2237 (M-Th : 9 AM-9PM EST, Fri 9 AM – 5 PM EST)
- Take Steps Toward A Healthier Work Environment
Is your office kitchen where people go to drown their cares in sugary treats? Swapping out fruits for cookies is an easy way to create a healthier workplace. You can’t control what people bring into the communal kitchen, but you can provide healthier foods to reach for without having to increase the food budget or do anything all that different.
Could you hire a yoga teacher or massage therapist to come into the office once a month? Providing fitness instructors can help your fellow employees find time to work out more easily. You may even help introduce your fellow employees to a new fitness practice that makes them happier and healthier. In one study, yoga interventions at work were shown to reduce work-related stress more effectively than no intervention.
One alternative option to hiring a fitness instructor is to pay for subscriptions to fitness apps for your employees. Many apps have a reasonable yearly fee and may even offer a corporate plan that allows you to buy bulk memberships.
Again, there may be existing benefits your company already provides that could help employees to feel more cared for. Don’t save it for a once a year message. Communicate regularly about the many ways you support them in being healthier for their work and for their families.
- Get Your Co-Workers Out In Nature
Unless you’re a park ranger or have an outdoor job, you and your co-workers could probably use a nature break. Getting a change of scenery during the work day can be mentally beneficial, especially if you’re feeling drained. If you’re a manager consider taking your group on a picnic lunch in the park or planning an outing that gets your team out in the sunshine. On summer Fridays, consider setting up a lemonade stand outside for everyone to enjoy.
Some offices even have outside space nearby that would be perfect for holding meetings. Try taking your group out into the great outdoors for your next meeting. It’s a great way to get a fresh perspective and to make meetings a lot more enjoyable. According to a study by the University of Chicago, spending time in nature can lead to better attention and cognitive flexibility.
- Provide Online Therapy For Employees
Many of the challenges surrounding therapy involve the daily obstacles of getting everything you need to do done, beating traffic and making it to an appointment on time.
Attending in-person therapy can mean missed time away from work or taking an extended lunch hour during the day. An online mental health platform can remove many of these stumbling blocks to therapy by allowing your fellow co-workers to meet with a therapist from the comfort of their home, which gives them more time and space to process.
Interviewing therapists and finding one taking new patients that’s also close to work or home is another common stumbling block. You can be matched to a therapist fairly quickly in most cases using an online platform, often within 24-48 hours after you start the process of matching with a therapist.
Corporations are increasingly seeking to offer the benefits of online mental health program for their employees. It’s a way to not only support people to make them feel valued, it’s a great way to cut down on sick days due to mental health issues.
- Add More Flexibility To The Workplace
Studies have shown that flexible work options have been linked to improved mental health. The most obvious place to start is to consider adding flexibility in terms of where the employees of your company work.
Other options could be to work alternate hours during the day, which can benefit people with school-aged kids who need to do school pickups or go to parent-teacher conferences but can easily work later into the night. Some employers provide unlimited vacation and unique ways that allow employees to have more control over when and how they work.
Lastly, we’ve all heard of the boss who calls in Fridays from his summer house while everyone else is at work. Ensure access to flexibility is company-wide in order to be successful. Giving flexibility to a few execs at the top can create more negative feelings at work than it solves.
- Just Ask Your Staff What They Want
Which of these strategies will work best? After you commit to making mental health an important consideration in your workplace, test new programs out from time to time. Maybe some people will like group events, while others prefer for more individual activities like meditation. Use surveys to follow up with them, and get feedback after events and new programs are launched to know what is and isn’t working.
The most important thing is to keep the conversation about mental health going. In one study, almost 40% of employees worldwide said they haven’t been asked if they’re doing alright by anyone at work. There’s a lot of good work that can be done to improve mental health in the workplace by simply asking people if they’re okay. Then build on that simple kindness to create a culture of caring that nourishes employees and makes them feel cared for, even under difficult circumstances.
Keep talking with your fellow employees about what they want. The simple practice of asking your employees what they want can help to create a more positive environment for open dialogue. But you have to continue to communicate on a regular basis to ensure your employees understand that mental health isn’t a one and done initiative, it’s an ongoing conversation meant to mutually benefit everyone in your organization.