Author: Emily Brainerd
Since the pandemic started, 39% of employers have indicated a decline in employee emotional wellbeing according to Gallagher's "COVID-19 Sustaining Organizational Wellbeing & Resiliency Through a Crisis Pulse Survey." Employers also rank emotional wellbeing as the top benefit for consideration in total rewards planning, and industry trend data suggests the demand for mental health benefits will only continue to grow.
As the pandemic continues into late 2021, employers can take advantage of World Mental Health Day on October 10, 2021, to promote mental health education and resources with employees. World Mental Health Day takes place during Mental Illness Awareness Week and aims to educate the public and reduce the social stigma around receiving mental health care.
Three strategies to help you and your employees
This week is a great opportunity for employers to 1) increase mental health awareness within their workforce, 2) promote access to resources, and 3) take personal action. Here’s how you can do that:
- Increase Mental Health Awareness
In order for employees to ask for help in the first place, it is imperative they have access to mental health awareness and educational resources.
Employees who truly feel supported by their organization are more empowered to seek the care they need. A critical component of building this trust includes training for all people managers, as direct managers are often the first point of contact for an employee. Supervisors play a key role in creating a psychologically safe work environment. Managers and organizational leaders need the emotional skills to be able to respond supportively to an employee in need and assist that employee in navigating available resources. This may also mean managers and leaders themselves need emotional wellbeing support first, as they are struggling with the same challenges facing their team members.
These resources are a great place to start creating awareness in your organization, reduce mental health stigma and provide general education:
- Mental Health America – information on mental health conditions
- National Alliance on Mental Illness – awareness resources and collateral
- Promote Access to Resources
Employers need to make sure there are resources in place for employees to get treatment and manage mental health conditions. These resources should span a broad range, from including access for emergency support around substance misuse or suicide, to preventive care tools such as mindfulness exercises and stress management strategies in order to build resiliency.
Organizations should also consider how they could positively affect stressors to lessen common employee burdens. These could include programs to help with financial stress or caregiving responsibilities, or even concierge-type or convenience-related services such as healthy food delivery. Within the workplace, this may look like creating flexible schedules, strengthening manager/employee communication channels, increasing recognition opportunities and encouraging the use of paid time off (PTO).
Communication is crucial. An effective employee communications strategy can help employees know what is available, when to use which resource and how to easily access tools. Technology platforms such as intranets and benefit hubs can be a central location to house this information. Employers can also coordinate information and links from health plans, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and third party providers on the same platform to point employees to additional resources.
- Take Personal Action
Taking time to think about and take action on your personal mental health – no matter where you are in your journey – is imperative. If you are a manager, it is important employees see you taking care of your own mental health and emotional wellbeing. As mentioned above, direct supervisors must first be supported themselves if they are to effectively support their teams.
Resources such as those on Right Direction, as well as the below ideas, are a great place to start for leaders looking to both practice self-care and promote the importance of self-care to employees.
Ideas for Community Care
- Reach out to a friend in need
- Complete random acts of kindness
- Donate to mental health organizations
- Read and share articles and host a sharing event
Ideas for Self-Care
- Start the day with gratitude
- Have a little fun, let yourself laugh
- Sleep in and lay in bed until noon
- Reduce your screen time
- Be physically active throughout the day
- Savor a delicious meal
- End the day with gratitude
Gallagher wants to make sure you have the knowledge you need on important topics like mental health to empower your workforce with confidence. You can learn about more timely topics related to organizational wellbeing in the Q3 2021 Gallagher Better Works Insights Report: Fortifying a Culture of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
For additional information on supporting mental health in your workplace, please contact Emily Brainerd.