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Are You Doing Enough to Normalize Mental Health in the Workplace?

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Chances are, you're already aware of the challenges that work-from-home and Covid have presented in terms of mental health and are trying to ensure mental well-being among your employees.

It's even likely that you have returned to in-person work environments, at least in some capacity, and want to make your workers feel safe and supported. The best course of action for this is to normalize mental health in the workplace.

This becomes an extremely important issue to address since studies like the ones reported by CNBC have shown that "nearly half of American workers have been suffering from mental health issues since the COVID-19 pandemic began, at a significant cost to their well-being and potentially to their employer's bottom line.”

In fact, the study also found that the number of employees struggling with mental health issues jumped from 39% to 46% in the last year (with 55% saying it has affected them in some way). 

Consider the following to determine if your business is doing enough to normalize mental health in the workplace. 

 

THE GAP IN NORMALIZING MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

As an executive, you likely feel like you are doing enough to help your employees — as many do — but the numbers are telling a different story. According to BusinessWire, "96% of CEOs believe their companies are doing enough for employee mental health, yet only 69% of employees agree" with that statement.

The magazine also took a deep dive into the importance of ensuring you're doing more to help with mental health via the CEO of the Ginger study that produced these shocking results.

"The increased focus on mental health in the C-suite will benefit both shareholders and workers,” Ginger CEO Russell Glass explained. “As more people take steps to manage their mental health, CEOs should use this momentum to invest in accessible mental health benefits and to take a leading role in educating employees about the importance of mental health. Our data shows that this is truly the 'last-mile' challenge in mental healthcare. As we strive to create a world where mental health is never an obstacle, employers have a critical role in de-stigmatizing mental health and ensuring their teams know how to get help."

This means that there is a good chance that although you feel like you're doing enough to support and contribute to your worker's well-being, your employees may not feel the same. Ensuring you reduce that gap is the beginning of a truly de-stigmatized environment with more satisfaction, well-being, and production made possible. 

 

WHERE IS THE DISCONNECT?

Taking some time to think about how you are really supporting your employees is an essential step towards ensuring you're not among the higher percentage of leaders who think they're providing enough help — but isn't.

The truth is, some CEOs get caught up in business productivity and rely on their employees to keep producing, no questions asked. This constant pressure impacts mental wellness and forces employees to either burn out and hide their problems or deal with their mental health in unhealthy ways.

For insight, the Harvard Business Review revealed at least seven ways you can ensure your employees are getting enough mental health support:

  1. Be vulnerable: "Almost everyone has experienced some level of discomfort. But the universality of the experience will translate into a decrease in stigma only if people, especially people in power, share their experiences."
  2. Model healthy behaviors: go beyond just saying that you support mental health and model behavior that supports prioritizing self-care and boundaries.
  3. Build a culture of connection through check-ins: it's essential to check in with employees on a regular basis to identify and prevent mental health issues when possible.
  4. Offer flexibility and be inclusive: as needs change, it's important that companies remain flexible to accommodate those needs. 
  5. Communicate more than you think you need to: communication is key to de-stigmatizing mental health in the workplace. 
  6. Invest in training: mental health training ensures proactive and preventive actions will be taken in the workplace.
  7. Modify policies and practices: take a closer look at your policies and practices to ensure they're flexible and inclusive. Better yet, regularly evaluate and update them.

Bonus tip: evaluate your EAP program and ensure that it provides the support and resources your employees need. 

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO NORMALIZE MENTAL HEALTH?

Normalizing mental health is essential to de-stigmatizing its influence on the workplace and to produce a more positive and productive environment for workers to clock into every day. Many factors go into building and maintaining this kind of positive environment, but the following ways are essential for you:

Communicate to Your Team

One of the most powerful ways to normalize mental health as a leader is to communicate your struggles and experiences to employees. Are you stressed about a new client? Feel like your team is becoming too big for you to handle? Struggling to balance work and family?

When you communicate this to your team, show vulnerability, and make it known that everyone has doubts sometimes — you also communicate that this is a safe place for employees to come forward with their own struggles and experiences. 

 

Communicate Publicly

Whether you are a small B2B sales company or a large manufacturer, communicating about mental health publicly is also extremely powerful to the cause. Not only does it further support your own team by emphasizing the importance of mental health in all aspects of business, but it communicates the same importance to your clients to ensure they don't intend to stretch your workers too far. 

For smaller B2B clients, this means communicating to your clients that your team can only produce the best results when they take care of themselves and prioritize their mental health. For larger organizations, this could mean national advertisements about mental health in your organization and the impact normalizing mental health has had on employees.

 

Work With Employee Recovery to Find the Right EAP Program for You

The stigma surrounding mental health discussions in the workplace has held many employees back from finding and retrieving the support they need to recover from their struggles and be the productive team member you need for the growth of your business. Working with Employee Recovery to find the right EAP program for you and your employees will not only improve the well-being of your team members but directly impact your company's bottom line — via costs and production.

The first step in the right direction is ensuring mental health is normalized in your workplace. The next step is maintaining an environment of support and resources for whoever needs it!

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