Better Mental Health At Work: Five Strategies

5 Strategies To Support Mental Health At Work

It is time to go back to normal. But what kind of “normal” are we discussing? Gone are the days when we used to go to work for eight hours a day, six or seven days a week, unless we worked freelance. COVID-19 was an instant for all of us. Even though the situation now is nothing compared to 2020 or 2021, the post-pandemic period has inflicted a severe mental health crisis on millions of workers.

Mental Health In The Workplace During COVID-19

According to a recent survey by McKinsey on businesses, 9 out of 10 believe COVID-19 affects their employees by causing concern and sadness, and 70% indicate they’re taking action. Yet, according to a recent consumer-health poll, nearly half of the respondents (49%) stated that returning to the workplace will have some or severe negative consequences [1]. Beyond the numbers, have you seen and considered the mental health ramifications of returning to work? Before COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) paid for around 10,000 telehealth visits per week; At the pandemic’s peak, CMS paid for over a million visits per week. Many of the appointments were for mental health reasons.

Five Strategies To Alleviate Depression In The Workplace

1. Ensure Employees Have The Tools And Resources To Get Used To The New Working Scheme

The rapid expansion of digitization and remote work has placed new expectations on employees. Unfortunately, in many cases, employees don’t have enough support from the company to keep up with the more demanding requirements, especially with regard to the technological aspect. As a result, many feel distressed that they are left behind while the business moves forward. To tackle the problem, L&D managers must consider reskilling programs to prepare their employees for the new skills required. Ascertain that your employees have the resources they require to continue doing their jobs to their full potential.

2. Educate Employees To Have A Better Understanding Of Well-Being Needs And Offerings

Designing well-being programs is one thing, but ensuring employees are aware of the support available is no less critical. According to Gartner’s 2020 Well-Being Benchmarking Survey, almost all firms (96%) offer mental well-being programs. Yet, according to Gartner’s 2020 Well-Being Employee Survey, less than half of the number of employees surveyed (42%) believe their employers do so. That number says it all. There is an alarming lack of awareness among employees of the well-being options accessible to them, not to mention many are even unaware of their well-being requirements. That’s something the HR departments should think hard about.

To enter the world of employees and encourage them to be open about their struggles, the “total rewards” function should cooperate with and leverage the power of other communicators, including leaders, managers, and employees. With higher average serving years, senior executives are the ones who have the most open relationships with both their leaders and their junior counterparts. In other words, they are the key to this approach. Have them discuss their own experiences with personal well-being and how the organization’s offerings have aided them.

Managers, on the other hand, also need to up their game. Thanks to their proximity to their direct reports, they are in the ideal position to ask employees about well-being needs regularly and to assist in personalizing existing options. Last but not least, peer-to-peer employee interactions are crucial for establishing credibility for wellness programs.

3. Mitigate The False Assumption Of Stigma And Apathy By Changing Norms

People who are suffering from mental health issues are frequently stigmatized. They may resist treatment because they fear receiving negative reviews or, even worse, losing their job. It’s not rare for employees to show great courage in conveying their thoughts, only to be told their expressions are choices. Even worse, people may assume that they are trying to be rebellious. According to former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, more people die from stigma than cigarettes, heroin, or other risk drivers, because it keeps people in the dark, prevents them from asking for aid, and prevents decent people from willingly offering assistance.

From the side of the company, leaders and peers can help reduce stigma by sharing personal stories as people who have themselves struggled with mental illness. Employers can combat stigma by openly discussing mental health issues and developing health literacy campaigns. Another option is to train committed employees to help coworkers in need and lobby for mental health and wellness programs. Because some employees would rather talk to a coworker than to a mental health provider, internal advocates can serve as a link between employees and mental health services.

4. Utilize Videos In Mental Health Programs

Using videos to tackle mental health is one of the best go-to solutions for companies with a tight budget. The easiest and cheapest recommendation is probably a movie-watching party among workers. Yes, we are 100% serious. Besides entertainment purposes, cartoons or movies are “chicken soup for the adult soul” when capitalism has taken the soul out of the body. Interestingly, adults aged 18–49 account for more than 60% of Cartoon Network viewers, according to Statista.

Rationally, cartoons are the most soothing stress relief. Some studies demonstrate that watching cartoons is beneficial to your brain because laughter releases endorphins. Such positive components can improve our mental and physical well-being in ways that money cannot buy. Moreover, when educating against mental health stigma in the workplace, animated videos (and videos generally) are an excellent means of delivering information. Since human brains process visual data better than text, using explainer videos can achieve more significant outcomes. Here is a library of some suggested videos to watch to know more about mental health. Take a look!

5. Foster Social Support Through Teamwork

Usually, a working day is eight hours long and takes place five or six days a week. If a person does not like this time, their mental health is likely to suffer. Employees must be positive and joyful to have a productive day, whether working onsite or working from home. A happy, productive employee will benefit both the team and the company.

When it comes to feeling good about work, collaborating with coworkers and feeling like a needed and valued team member is crucial. Thus, business owners and top management must consistently promote team development and general collaboration. Some recommended activities may include casual updates on the team, and regular open talks about “fair” task assignments, to name a few.

Conclusion

Maintaining a cohesive team is a top priority for sustainable management. It means that mental health at work remains a critical issue that should receive attention from every business owner. Offering holistic health and wellness programs is a good start, but it isn’t enough. To actualize investments in well-being programs that support employees and help the business succeed, HR professionals must address the issues that hinder participation in well-being programs ahead of time.

References:

[1] Returning to work: Keys to a psychologically safer workplace

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