March 25, 2022 Category: Human Resources (8 minutes read)

5 ways to support employee mental health

5 ways to support employee mental health

As employees demand more support and resources, employers are placing greater emphasis on employee mental health benefits, coverage and support.

It is crucial that employers take proper steps to ensure their employees are healthy. We talked to mental health and human resource experts to find out why mental health is so important right now and what you can do for your employees. 

What is the definition of employee mental health?

The World Health Organization defines "employee psychological health" as the collective term for the mental, emotional, and social well-being of employees in the workplace. This concept describes how an individual evaluates their environment and copes with stressors and other factors. It also helps to determine whether or not they thrive in a workplace.

According to the WHO, work can be a source of good mental health. However, there are many workplace factors that can make a positive environment a disadvantage. Employers must make every effort to create a positive work environment that supports and enriches employees' mental health.

Workplace mental health risks

Understanding the factors that can impact your employees' mental health can help you support them and prevent major pitfalls.

These key mental health factors are listed by the WHO for the workplace.

  • Stress is the biggest risk factor for employee mental health. Employees can be stressed by deadlines, quotas, and other metrics that affect business performance. Although stress is common in the workplace, excessive stress can pose major risks and should not be ignored.
  • Harassment, bullying and other serious risks are also present. Multiple warnings have been issued by the WHO and resources provided to address workplace harassment. Harassment comes in many forms, but one thing is certain: an employee feels threatened at work.
  • Employees often blame poor communication for workplace stress. Stress can cause mental and physical problems, as well as psychological problems.
  • Another risk is limited participation. Employees who feel excluded or not valued often feel marginalized and unimportant in the decision-making process. These feelings can lead to poor mental health at work.
  • Poor work hours can lead to physical and mental health issues in the workplace.

The coronavirus and its impact on employees' mental health

Companies have been forced to take drastic measures such as pivoting their business strategies, furloughing employees and closing down. Employees have also had to adapt to the changes, even though they are dealing with personal problems. Many employees feel the emotional effects that isolation and confinement can have on their lives, with work-from-home orders and quarantine still in effect in many states. Nearly half of employees feel isolated, according to a FinanceBuzz survey.

It is important to provide support for your employees' mental health. This is particularly true now that employees are suffering from anxiety and depression. Caroline Ogilvy is a licensed independent clinical social worker and behavioural health specialist at Firefly Health. She said that there was a threefold rise in anxiety and depression among Firefly Health's patients during the pandemic.

Many employees are experiencing mental health issues for the first time, which can be detrimental to your organization.

Erika Ames, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Tailwinds Counseling, said, "In the midst of such uncertainty both at home and at work, employees who have not experienced significant mental health problems may be experiencing them for the first time and might not be aware of the impact anxiety or depression can have on work."

Both the employee and employer need to be healthy mentally. This is important for productivity and performance.

What are the negative consequences of neglecting employee mental health?

Mental health problems are often overlooked in the workplace. According to Carla Yudhishthu, vice president of people operations at thinkHR and MammothHR, employers often feel uncomfortable asking about the personal lives of employees. Conversely, employees may be reluctant to openly discuss their problems, particularly if it is affecting their job performance or if they are feeling stressed.

This vicious circle must be broken. Neglecting employees mental health can lead to problems for you as well as your employees.

Employer negative effects

  • This reduces trust between your employees and you.
  • It leads to a hostile and distrusting company culture.
  • It can lead to lower employee productivity and performance.
  • This could lead to discrimination claims.
  • It can reflect poorly on your brand and company
  • It can reduce engagement, performance, and productivity.
  • It can improve mental health.
  • Sometimes, the employee may not know where to go for assistance.
  • An employee may feel the need to conceal their difficulties.
  • Employees could put their employer and themselves at risk.

How to monitor and identify employee mental health

Mental health problems can occur at any time, even in crisis situations. It is crucial that you monitor your employees regularly and make sure they are doing well. By setting up regular check-ins, you can assess your employees.

Ogilvy stated that HR professionals should be proactive in reaching out to employees and asking them how they are doing. With a flexible lens, Ogilvy suggested that they provide individual-specific accommodations and education on employment policies that may be of benefit to employees.

These meetings should be approached in a way that allows employees to feel secure and safe. Encourage them to share their problems and ask for help. Talk with your employees attentively. There are many indicators that someone is struggling.

Ogilvy suggests looking for these changes:

  • Significant changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Concentration or focus difficulties
  • Increased worries and fears
  • Increased irritability
  • Worsening mood (increased sorrow, hopelessness, decreased mood)
  • Social withdrawal or isolation
  • Increased intake of alcohol, tobacco, and other substances
  • Suicidal thoughts, which can occur or get worse
  • Chronic medical conditions are worsening.
  • Chronic mental health problems that worsen
  • Increased fatigue or decreased energy
  • Performance at work has declined.
  • You often miss work.


 How can you support employees' mental well-being?

Your human resources team and you play an important role in supporting employees' mental health. Your job is to make your workplace inclusive and offer the support your employees need. Experts have shared their top tips for supporting your employees.

 Educate your team

Your employer is the first to foster a supportive culture in your company. If it hasn't been done, organize a meeting for the entire company to discuss the pandemic and its impact on mental health. Your team should be educated on self-care, workplace stress reduction and how to avoid burnout. A health professional can help employees with questions and talk about these topics.

Ames stated that hiring a mental health professional to speak to employees about ways to improve mental health and point out signs it might be time to seek professional help is empowering for employees to take steps to improve their mental health.

 Host regular check-in meetings

It is crucial to check in with your employees regularly as mental health can change quickly. After holding a companywide meeting, Kara Lissy - clinical coordinator and psychotherapist at A Good Place Therapy - recommends that every department manager set up one-on-one meetings. The manager can answer any questions that employees may have and also review the company's mental healthcare benefits.

Lissy said that sometimes people feel hesitant about speaking up in large group settings. She believes it is better to have one-on-one conversations.

Encourage proper self-care

It is reluctant to take time off or even talk about its struggles. Encourage self-care and show leadership to encourage mental wellness in your employees.

Yudhishthu stated, "A companywide time should be set for all employees to go on a formal 'walk' together, as long as they are able to move and the weather permits." This ensures that everyone takes a collective 30-minute mental and physical break without having to return to 10 unread emails or Slack messages.

Facilitate clear communication

When many people are working remotely, communication is crucial. It's easy to get lost in a cycle of "outside of sight, outside of the mind." But having remote employees is a great reason to communicate clearly and consistently. Your company's current policies and options for mental health should be communicated to your employees in a clear and compassionate manner. Know who to turn to if your employees have any questions.

Ogilvy stated that HR professionals could ensure employees receive the support they need in these unprecedented times by providing consistent, open, and consistent communication with employees. Many employees feel overwhelmed and anxious when they start working remotely, which may be a disadvantage for productivity because of conflicting responsibilities.

  1. Employer mental health policies and resources that support employees with mental health issues.

You have many mental health resources that you can offer to your employees. You should offer your employees an employee assistance program (EAP), grief counselling, bereavement and bereavement leaves, as well as a list of psychiatrists, therapists, and mental health clinics in the network.

Yudhishthu stated that an EAP is an essential benefit, as it gives employees confidential, expert assistance for problems such as financial problems, substance abuse, relationship conflict, and mental health issues. These services are provided by an outside provider who connects employees to the right professionals and resources. These programs allow companies to offer professional assistance to employees while maintaining confidentiality at work.

No matter what employee wellness programs or mental health coverage you provide, ensure they are current and easily accessible.

Yudhishthu stated that employees could be empowered to achieve top-notch work and balance their well-being by supporting mental health at work. It is your responsibility to develop and foster the environment necessary for that strategy.