Mental Health: Empower Employees

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By Rachael Powell,

The typical employee spends a third of their day at work. If employees are experiencing mental health issues at home, they are sure to be present in the workplace as well. We all have a responsibility to support employees and create a healthy working environment.
1. Management sets the stage. Organizations have a great opportunity to positively affect a host of issues, including employee mental health. At a high level the management team is responsible for setting the tone for creating a positive environment. For example, if management regularly complains about employees being out for routine check-ups or personal matters, an employee is likely to feel less comfortable for taking time off to address mental health related issues. Employees should feel they have the support of management to address mental health concerns.
2. Resources and ease of access. Aside from creating an environment of support, providing employees with an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a valuable resource. This type of program can help employees deal with stressors, personal issues, substance abuse, and many other issues through confidential counseling services. The Total Rewards survey found that EAPs were the most underutilized benefit. If your organization provides an EAP, make the information readily available and ensure managers are aware of the resource as well. In some instances, FMLA or a leave of absence may also be helpful, and management should have policies and procedures in place.
3. Talk about it. Employees can find support by hearing stories of coworkers’ struggles. Show employees you care when they open-up or share any experiences of your own. Employees will be more likely to seek help if they know others have sought treatment for mental health issues as well.
4. We are all responsible. While management and human resources may have more of a direct impact on providing support for employees, we all have a responsibility to be supportive of each other. Just as if an employee went out for knee surgery, when an employee is absent due to mental health issues, we can all chip-in to cover their responsibilities while they are out. A helping hand to a fellow co-worker can go a long way.

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