How You Can Open the Conversation around Mental Wellness at Work

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Supporting mental wellness is now more important than ever. A 2020 report by the American Psychological Association found that stress levels are at an all-time high, significant enough to be considered a national mental health crisis. Those companies that aren’t working to solve the problem are likely contributing to it.

When it comes to advocating for mental health at work, there are practical and easy steps every business can do to support their workforce. Read on for a brief guide to support mental health for employees.

Start with a conversation

Companies that want to support mental health at work don’t just leave room for conversations on mental health, they start them. Employers who are vulnerable and open are more likely to convey authentic compassion, too, so don’t outsource these conversations.

Everyone has been stressed by work or life at some point. Even if you as an employer have not struggled with mental illness, or you’re not yet ready to share with coworkers, find someone in leadership who would be willing to open the dialogue. Employees will follow the lead, but someone needs to take the first step.

Set up opportunities to listen

After opening the conversation, it’s important to make time to listen. Consider hosting a weekly office hour where employees can give feedback on how the company supports mental health or schedule monthly check-ins.

Although the idea of workers pouring out their hearts can feel intimidating, it’s important to remember that your job isn’t to help people fix their problems. Your role is to support their wellbeing by connecting them to services and building a healthy workplace culture.

If you’re not sure where to start these one-on-one chats, try out these questions.

  • How do you feel compared to this time last year?
  • What is your biggest distraction?
  • How is your family doing?
  • Do you feel you have a good work-life balance?
  • What has been most stressful in your life recently?

Use these questions to segway into where they might be able to find support.

  • Have you been able to talk to anyone about this?
  • What would make you more comfortable in reaching out for help?
  • What kind of services would be helpful to you right now?

Host events that encourage mental wellness

Your employees will know you’re serious about mental health at work when you invest resources into their well-being. Yoga classes, company picnics, speaker sessions, holiday parties, an in-office gym and so on can all build a culture that is not only open to mental health in the workplace but takes concrete steps to promote it.

Making time for these activities gives off the impression that employees are valued as people. In a time where many people feel like cogs in a machine, a company that supports the dignity of every person can attract future employees and retain current ones.

Give employees some agency

When employees are able to get creative and take ownership over mental wellness practices at work, you’ll have better buy-in and more variety in the ways your office supports mental health.

There are many easy ways to enlist employees to help. Create a mental wellness committee, invite a different employee to host an activity every month or have individuals contribute to the mental health at work newsletter.

When employees are invested in the process, discussions around mental health will have a greater impact. Your company culture will benefit and employees will be happy coming to work.

Build a space

One simple step can solidify a company’s long-term commitment to promoting mental health: creating a safe space to decompress. Whether it’s an empty office or a converted storage room, a physical location that is redesigned to reduce stress and anxiety at work can work wonders and is a one-time investment.

Use low lighting and comfortable seating to set the scene. Then add an assortment of items so employees can relax and recharge. Consider adding a yoga mat, a sound machine, a tabletop zen sand garden, wood puzzles, calming or motivational books and so on.

The opportunities for a relaxation room are endless and this is a great chance for employees to contribute ideas, too. Just be sure that electronics in the room are limited and expectations for using the space are clear.

More creative ideas to prioritize mental health in the workplace

Invest in your employees

Supporting mental health at work is one of the smartest investments a company can make. When employees feel valued, they’ll be happier and more productive at work and lead more meaningful lives outside the office.

If work-related stress is impacting your employees’ mental health, connect them with the Light Program. Compassionate and certified professionals can offer hope and healing through residential and outpatient treatment programs so your employees can lead full lives. Call 610-644-6464 now.