Wellbeing Blog

May 24, 2017

Celebrating Mental Wellbeing at Work

One of my clients recently asked for some new ways to promote mental health awareness this May, yet also keep the topic front and center throughout the year. I have been in the wellness/wellbeing field for quite some time now, but landed here by way of work at an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). With a master’s degree in counseling, mental wellbeing is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Of course, it’s also a well-documented concern of employers, who genuinely care about the impact of poor mental health on their employees’ lives and their businesses.

In a national public opinion poll conducted by the American Psychological Association, “two-thirds of both men and women say work has a significant impact on their stress level, and one in four has called in sick or taken a “mental health day” as a result of work stress.” So, what’s an employer to do? The following is some advice that I gave to my client.

Some “old ways” of addressing mental health continue to be effective, and it never hurts to remind employees of the resources available to them. Your company can play its part in reducing the stigma of accessing the benefits:

  • Remind employees of the services, from counseling to work-life resources to webinars, available through your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  • Share resources on specific topics such as distracted driving, financial stress, addiction, etc., as offered by the national Mental Health Awareness Month Campaign. Download the 2017 toolkit.
  • One of the posters I recommend is 31 Ways to Work on Your Wellness Consider hosting a “Fit Mind” challenge by asking employees to pick five items from the list, circle what they complete and enter their name in a raffle for a prize!
  • Offer mindfulness or meditation class onsite or a voucher/subsidy to a program offered in your local community.

As for some fresh ideas to promote mental and emotional wellbeing, consider these activities:

  • Promote Meditation Apps, such as Whil or Headspace. Whil has a formal program called Search Inside Yourself that our CBIZ wellbeing team recently piloted and found very useful. 
  • Set up a Relaxation Room. One of our clients created a Relaxation Room on-site for their employees to take 10-15 min breaks. They designed it with comfortable furniture, calming décor, and tools such as reading material, yoga mats, radio, etc., and used their carrier wellness funds to fund the space.
  • Encourage art therapy! Pass out adult coloring books. Or, host a “paint night” onsite or set up an off-site field trip to a local paint bar, which is so fun!
  • Offer an additional PTO day with an emphasis on taking care of self rather than recovery from illness. Perhaps call it a Wellness Day Off or Mindful Day Off.
  • Dedicate a day or week to Depression Screenings. While these are supposed to be included in annual well visits, not all employees are taking advantage of preventive care, and some doctor’s skim over the matter too quickly.  As there may be a stigma associated with this type of screening, ask a senior leader in your organization to encourage it, and support efforts by letting employees know that they have been screened (just like “I voted” or “I got my flu shot’). Check with your EAP to see if they could arrange for a counselor to come on site for the day.

Be sure to empower your managers with tools as well. Bringing your EAP on-site to do training specific to managers is key. I recommend hosting a training at least twice a year. In my experience, EAP usage spikes when managers understand its value and gain a comfort level themselves with the EAP.

Review your workplace policies and practices. Check out the guidance from the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence for employers on creating a psychologically healthy workplace through a variety of program and practices. There are some other ideas for managers to demonstrate and show empathy in my latest post https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/emojis-rescue-emily-noll-1.

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