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  • Sarah Lindsey

Mental Health Awareness Month in Your Company

Since 1949 Mental Health Awareness Month has been celebrated in May and is a time for people to learn more about the different impacts mental illness can have. A recent theme in mental health awareness month is that of “Stop the Stigma” which encourages communities to provide support, educate about, and advocate for support of people with mental health illness. Many companies want to create a culture of support in the workplace and stop the stigma but tackling the issue can seem intimidating and awkward. Here are 5 ways that you can use to start honoring mental health awareness month.

But first the stats…

  • 79% of workers have experienced work-related stress during the last 12 months while 22% of workers say they feel stress more often than not. (Capita)

  • 45% of workers have considered leaving a job due to the stress it has created. (Capita)

  • Only 37% of workers feel comfortable taking time off due to mental health issues. (Capita)

  • The World Health Organization estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy US $1 trillion per year in lost productivity (the WHO also found that investing in employee mental health is well worth it! For every $1 use towards helping treat common mental health problems there was an ROI of $4 in improved productivity).

According to the above surveys, odds are you or someone you work with has experienced workplace mental health problems. The key to stopping the stigma is having open and honest conversations about mental health and having a prepared plan for how your company will respond to these issues. The tips below will help you begin to build a company culture that supports those with mental illness.

  • Create a space to relax: Whether you’re in the office or have remote employees there is always a way to create a relaxing space. If working in the office consider adding plants and calming white noise to the break room (both of these things have been proven to help people relax). If working virtually create a Zoom chat for employees where work-related chat is not allowed- this will help encourage better inter-team relationships which will help reduce stress. Another great option is to send virtual workers a care package full of de-stressing essentials like yoga mats, diffusers, and noise-canceling headphones.

  • Speaking of yoga mats- offer up a yoga or fitness class to employees. Getting up and moving has been proven to help reduce stress and increase productivity. A few times a month bring in a certified instructor (or play a guided video on Youtube) and offer a free class to employees.

  • Show appreciation: Once a week choose an employee who is doing a great job and spotlight them or give them a shout out. This is a simple way of helping employees know that you value them and appreciate their work. If spotlighting is not the way you want to go then make sure to privately thank team members frequently. Employees that feel appreciated or valued are more likely to have positive emotions about their work environment.

  • Hold mental health workshops: Every few months take some time to plan a mental health workshop that will educate employees on statistics and symptoms of mental illness. Invite different employees to share experiences they’ve had with their mental health journey. This is a great chance to highlight different company resources available to employees who may be struggling with these things.

  • Block out time for mental health: Sometimes you really just need to take a mental health moment where you can practice self-care. Whether it’s a day, an hour, or just a small break, encourage employees to take time where they can prioritize their mental health.

Introducing mental health practices into your company will be a catalyst for positive change in your office. Companies that have begun to prioritize mental health have reported higher productivity levels and better employee engagement. Think of May as the perfect opportunity to initiate your organization’s mental health practices. Let us know what your favorite ways are to prioritize mental health within your organization in the comments below or tag us on social media.

*This post was inspired by articles from GoCo and HR Exchange Network. To read their respective articles click here: 6 Ways to Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month and 11 Ways HR Can Virtually Honor World Mental Health Day.

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