6 Ways Companies Can Support Employee Mental Health

We offer advice for organizational leaders to improve and support the mental health of their employees.

There have been many discussions lately about mental health in the workplace, for a good reason. According to a Statistics Canada survey on COVID-19 and mental health conducted in 2021, one in four Canadians aged 18 and older screened positive for depression, anxiety, or posttraumatic stress disorder (or PTSD), up from one-in-five in 2020. The fact is that employees suffering from mental health problems are more unhappy and less productive. Investing in mental health awareness for employees is a smart use of resources for any business. 

What are the best ways for a business to invest in employee mental health? Check out the six tips below to get started. 

1. Provide a clear mental health policy

Having a clear mental health policy is an essential first step. Your company should include one in your employee handbook, orientation, performance reviews, and annual reviews. Your employees need to know what they can expect from you if mental illness affects them. Your company's official statement on mental health will help them feel secure in their rights at work and guide them on how to approach management with any issues related to their own or someone else's mental health issues.

2. Create a safe space 

Employees need to feel safe when they seek help. Giving them anonymity can help them feel comfortable opening up about their mental illness, which is an important step in getting better. By providing a safe space, you create a culture of compassion where employees feel supported and not alone. When employees know their employer cares about their well-being, they'll be more likely to stay loyal to the company.

3. Offer ongoing education

Offer employees opportunities to learn about mental health. Training is essential in supporting employees with mental health issues and ensuring they have the necessary tools to seek assistance. Whether your company offers workshops, webinars, or other resources, providing them with a forum where they can learn more about dealing with mental illness in the workplace will help create a culture of acceptance and support.

Provide managers training on recognizing and responding to mental health issues. Managers are often the first line of defence regarding employee welfare. They're responsible for handling performance issues and addressing employee well-being concerns. These skills allow them to address these issues directly instead of leaving employees feeling like management or human resources isn't taking their situation seriously. In addition, offering this type of training will open up lines of communication between higher management and staff members, so both sides understand what's expected of them at all times.

4. Encourage physical activity

Physical activity is a great way to manage stress. Exercise has been shown to help with anxiety and depression, as well as sleep, mood, memory, focus, creativity, and problem-solving-—all of which are important in the workplace. Studies show that people who exercise more are less likely to experience depression than those who don't exercise at all. If your company offers wellness programs like on-site fitness centers or walking paths around the office building,  encourage employees to take advantage of them. That way, they can stay fit while also supporting their mental health.

5. Promote mental health resources and support

Along with providing resources and support, you can also provide a safe space for employees to talk about their mental health. The more comfortable they are with the subject, the more likely they will open up about it. As a company leader, you're already positioned to help create this environment by fostering open dialogue around depression and other mental health issues.

Ensure that your employees know the resources available to them through their health insurance provider and other sources like Inkblot. Actively reminding employees where they can locate the materials they need to find solutions and support for their mental health could make the difference between someone seeking additional support to help begin their journey to better mental health. 

6. Make mental health awareness part of your culture

The next step is to make mental health awareness part of your company culture. This means training employees to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health issues, encouraging them to speak up when they need help, and making it clear that there are no negative consequences for doing so. Let your employees know that you prioritize employee mental health - not just by saying so in an email or memo, but by showing it. Building this kind of environment will encourage employees that it's OK to seek professional support when needed and that their company supports them in doing so.

These six tips are just a starting point. There's no one-size-fits-all solution to support the mental health of your employees, but these strategies are a great place to start. Whether you're already offering some mental health support and want to strengthen your efforts or build from the ground up, hopefully, this guide has given you plenty of ideas to work with. 

Now get out there and make your workplace better for everyone.

Inkblot Therapy