Start Making Mental Health a Common Conversation
The Wall Street Journal reports that American workers are burnt out. We’re stressed, tired, and want a better work/life balance. In the first 10-minutes of 2021, nearly 39 million resignations happened as workers sought better jobs and a break from the corporate grind. More than three-quarters of the American workforce say their mental health is suffering as stress and burnout takes a toll.
It’s for all of these reasons that employers need to talk about health, but particularly, mental health, that area of wellbeing that is so often stigmatized. Mental health is health, and without it, your employees will suffer. Here’s how to start making mental health a topic of conversation in your workplace.
Why It is Important To Talk About Mental Health
Talking About Mental Health at Work
Starting conversations at work takes a careful approach to opening up a dialogue about health. Organizations can talk about mental health in the same way they would general health. Offering employees a newsletter about health, forming committees to figure out ways to improve the workplace, even reminding your workers if they have an Employee Assistance Program—all of these things can point the way toward better work/life balance and mental health. Your goals should be to start a dialogue and then listen carefully to your workforce.
Train your managers in how to talk about mental health in an appropriate way. For example,
- “You seem more frustrated by the job than normal. I’m here to help and I wonder how you’re doing.”
- “So, how are you doing these days? How’s your stress level holding up?”
- “With everything that’s going on, I’m wondering if you’re feeling overwhelmed.”
Even basic questions like, “How is the family doing?” can get the ball rolling.
All you have to do, and all you should do, is open a door and listen. Sometimes allowing the employee some space could help them pull things together. Maybe you need to redistribute their workload a bit. As an employer, it’s important to normalize the discussion around mental health but also provide resources that can help. In addition to the EAP, you can sponsor events on managing pandemic stress or work/life balance or even exercise and your mental health.
If your team is physically back to work, consider creating a quiet, de-digitized space in the office where people can go sit quietly to decompress. Call it a relaxation room and provide it as a place to take a break or a while.
Also, an employer can address parity in their mental health benefits by talking with their health plan provider. Did you know that most physical health issues are covered more fully than mental health? Your brain’s health is no less important than the health of your cardiovascular system or any other physical system of the body. But the stigma of mental health issues lingers. In 2022 you have a chance to change things at work by opening the door to discussions about ways we can all improve our we feel mentally.
Is Mental Health Talked About In Your Organization?
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