Advice for supporting employees' mental health

Author: Kristen Wood


People drawn to work in the nonprofit space are usually particularly interested in contributing to a cause they believe in and are passionate about. However, long hours, stressful environments, limited funds and resources, and low wages can make the work overwhelming and emotionally damage the employee.

A few weeks ago, a client shared a story that summarized the state of mental health in their organization. An employee in a high-stress, mentally taxing role had shared that they went home every night and cried until they were able to fall asleep, only to wake up and do it all again the next day.

Although my client was aware of the issue, knowing what next steps to take can be a challenge. As a leader in your organization, it is imperative that you are equipped to support employees struggling with their mental health, especially when work is a contributing factor.

  1. Be approachable. Nearly two-thirds of employees who suffer from a mental health condition will hide it from their coworkers. In the absence of organizational awareness and support, these conditions can cripple productivity and employee engagement. Reduce the stigma by sharing your own experiences and struggles. This can make it easier for employees to ask for help.
  2. Be flexible. Accommodate your employees who are struggling with mental health. This can include reduced work hours, permission to work from home, or changing their workload.
  3. Communicate. Do you have an employee assistance program (EAP) available to employees? Make sure to communicate the program and how to access it. Even if you do not have a standalone EAP, there is likely a program built into your disability plan.
  4. Educate. Provide employees with reliable information delivered by licensed professionals on issues like depression, anxiety, addictions, loss and grief, and managing difficult relationships at work and at home, in a confidential format. Train managers to understand mental health issues in the workplace, and how to respond with specific scripts and approaches.

Prioritizing the mental health of your workplace not only makes your organization a safer, more positive environment, it also results in major cost savings. The reduction in leaves of absence and the increase in productivity from engaged, happy employees has been shown to have a direct impact on the bottom line.

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This material was created to provide accurate and reliable information on the subjects covered but should not be regarded as a complete analysis of these subjects. It is not intended to provide specific legal, tax or other professional advice. The services of an appropriate professional should be sought regarding your individual situation.

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