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Why Employers Need to Support Mental Wellness

mental health benefits.jpgDid you know that roughly 85 percent of employees’ mental health conditions go undiagnosed or untreated? Did you know that 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. (43.8 million people!) experiences mental illness every year?  Did you know that mental health conditions cost employers more than $100 billion and 217 million lost workdays each year?

I admit – I didn’t, and I’m guessing I’m not alone. But as Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” So now that we know better, let’s work on doing better.

Every May, the National Alliance of Mental Illness issues a call to action for employers to destigmatize mental health in the workplace in honor of Mental Health Month. I encourage employers to keep that call to action top of mind year-round because our work is not done.

Businessolver recently released our second annual Workplace Empathy Monitor and discovered that 95 percent of employees believe companies can show empathy by caring about employees’ physical and mental wellness. Yet, only 72 percent of employees surveyed say their employers actually care about employees’ mental health.

It’s clear we need to start making mental wellness a priority and providing employees with the tools and resources they need take care of themselves.

But knowing where to start can be tough, especially on such a taboo topic. Here are three tips for your organization to shine a light on mental health and make it a priority all year long:

Raise awareness through education
Education is the first step to addressing mental health. Managers and leaders need to be prepared with information and resources that can help them better recognize when employees are burning out, or demonstrating signs of mental illness. Think about incorporating mental health awareness education into standard employee and manager trainings to help everyone feel more comfortable and informed about how to recognize and deal with mental health issues.

Offer tools to decompress
Many mental health problems start from stress. Of course, stress is a part of life, working life in particular. But that’s why giving employees opportunities to step away from their desks and relax is critical.

At Businessolver, we have an onsite gym that employees can access at any time. I go there almost every day to clear my head with a good workout. Other ideas might be creating an outdoor space to decompress, or offering onsite yoga classes or guided meditations. Or, consider adding benefits to cover/reimburse the cost of counseling for employees and families.

Engage your workforce for their feedback on what helps keep them calm and work with leadership to identify how you can make those offerings a reality. 

Keep the dialogue open
Sometimes, simply asking “How are you doing?” can show employees you care and are empathetic to what they go through. Let employees know they can go to their managers, HR, and other leaders at any time with questions or concerns about their mental wellness, and that the organization is committed to helping them find the right resources. 

As May comes to a close, let’s all make a commitment to continue addressing mental wellness in the workplace and helping our employees prioritize their wellbeing. For more information on mental health awareness, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Posted by Rae Shanahan on May 25, 2017 10:00:00 AM

Topics: Benefits, empathy, Mental Health, Workplace Empathy Monitor 2017

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