Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. And unfortunately, many more struggle every year without a diagnosis. Regardless of where you are, you don’t have to fight this battle alone. In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness Month, Insight Global’s Benefits & Wellness experts have partnered to share three ways that employers can effectively support employees, fight stigma, and lean in to having productive conversations about mental health in the workplace.
1) Establish valuable and effective resources.
To support the mental health of your employees, you need to have the right tools and resources in place. With mental health concerns on the rise, adopt a place where your employees can virtually go to find all the mental health benefits that your company has to offer. “It’s important that companies offer employees a variety of mental health resources to help spread awareness and fight the stigma,” says Insight Global’s Director of Benefits and Wellness, Christie Nuce. “It is essential that employees know that their mental and physical health come first and that the company prioritizes mental well-being above all else.” Employers can explore offerings such as an Employee Assistance Program, or work with their existing vendors or carriers to understand the options already available to their employees. During the pandemic, many carriers have added mental health resources that are available to members at no cost. It’s important to market those resources regularly and through a variety of different channels to make it easy for employees to know where they can seek help.
2) Reduce the stigma.
Starting a conversation can be a powerful way to challenge mental health stigma and get people to think about their perceptions. Often the fear of stigma prevents some employees from getting the help they need. It is not the easiest topic to discuss, however starting the initial conversation can lessen the stigma and make it easier for your employees to ask for help. “Challenging false assumptions and reducing the stigma around mental illness in the workplace requires education and empathetic action from all levels,” says Merrill Garrison, Insight Global Wellness and Parental Leave Specialist. “By examining our own thinking and language, we are able to cultivate a safe work environment that focuses on supporting and encouraging our employees.”
Merrill recommends the following 3 actions as simple ways of reducing the stigma around mental health at work:
- Know the Facts. Educate yourself about mental illnesses and be open to conversations.
- Be Aware. Take notice of your thoughts, behaviors and words and how they affect the attitudes of others.
- Choose Empowerment over Shame. Treat everyone with dignity and respect; offer support and encouragement.
3) Offer trainings to managers.
Recognizing the warning signs of a mental health struggle isn’t always easy. Integrating mental health training into an organization’s leadership development enables them to foster healthier relationships with their employees, encourage them to seek the help they need, and better promote employee well-being.
“Mental health training equips leaders to feel confident in discussing mental health and providing people with the resources and the support they need,” says Insight Global HR Manager, Andrea Gipson. “While leaders should by no means replace a therapist or solve their employees’ issues, training leaders can equip them to have a constructive conversation with their people and nudge them to take action.”
Talking about mental health can give us freedom to seek help, find people who can relate, and put a greater emphasis on our well-being. Continue the conversation about mental health. Together, we can work to stop the stigma surrounding issues many of us face!