Proven strategies for organizations to support the mental health of their employees

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The confluence of factors – largely due to the loss of connection between stress and COVID-19 – has led to a sharp rise in mental health problems such as depression and anxiety.

“Mental health therapists are busier than ever before,” said Laraine Murdock, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) who works with Revere Health in St. Louis. George, UT Behavioral Health location. “People’s lives have become unbalanced.”

This has implications for all aspects of life, including the workplace. According to the CDC, poor mental health and stress can affect work performance and productivity, work commitment, communication with colleagues, and day-to-day functioning.

As one BetterUp mental health coaching service article puts it, “Supporting mental health in the workplace is no longer enjoyable, it’s essential.”

So what can employers do to prioritize this need? Here are four proven strategies:

1. Stigmatize the issue of mental health in the workplace

More employees are working on talking about their mental health than in 2019, according to a survey published in the Harvard Business Review (HBR). However, only 49% said that the experience of talking about mental health at work was positive.

HBR offers a number of strategies to address this, including:

  • Training leaders to treat mental health as an organizational priority (beyond HR only)
  • Empower staff to form a mental health staff resource group (ERGS)
  • Establish rules for communication, responsibility and urgency
  • Encourage leaders to share mental health perspectives and experiences

“Employers need to move from seeing mental health as an individual challenge to a collective priority,” HBR suggests. “Given all the factors in the workplace, companies can no longer share mental health responsibility solely through individual responsibility through self-care, mental health days, or employee benefits.”

Other approaches to the overall organization may include regular mental health surveys to verify employees, no after-hours email, focused work time, and no meeting days.

A case study published by the Center for Occupational Mental Health identifies how a construction company, whose industry has the highest suicide rate for any group of professionals, answered the question: “How do we reduce stigma and do well to talk about mental health issues. tough and girl atmosphere “?

2. Educate staff

The CDC suggests organizing seminars or workshops for employers to work on techniques for managing depression and stress, such as mindfulness, breathing exercises and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress, and to improve focus and motivation.

“Deep breathing puts pressure on your vagus nerve which in turn stimulates your calming system,” Murdock said. “Old and new research still focuses on deep breathing to help reduce the intensity of a strong emotion.”

The CDC also suggests distributing materials to all employees, such as brochures, flyers, and videos, about signs and symptoms of poor mental health, and treatment options.

Proven strategies for organizations to support the mental health of their employees
Photo: fizkes – stock.adobe.com

Don’t limit your educational efforts strictly to mental well-being, however. Consider education in other areas related to mental health, such as financial well-being.

That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. This helped alleviate significant employee stress and led to higher productivity and lower absenteeism and depression rates.

3. Fostering a culture of improving relationships

Isolation has been a major cause of mental health problems since the COVID-19 pandemic. And the impact is real.

“Research by BYU and other universities has found that smoking alone is as harmful as reducing life expectancy,” said Allan Pauole, Clinical Mental Health Advisor (CMHC), who practices Provo with UT Behavioral Health’s Revere Health. location.

The good news is that creating a connected workplace doesn’t have to be challenging.

“The great thing is to check with your co-workers and colleagues and ask how they are doing,” Pauol said. “If I’m among the sick I always walk up and down with the staff and make jokes or say something to break the seriousness we’re doing. Small things have a long way to go.”

4. Take technological solutions to some extent

Employers should be aware of the growing demand for digital health solutions, such as laptops and virtual therapy sessions, which should be considered as an opportunity to address mental health challenges in the workplace, according to an article by McKinsey & Company.

Apps like Calm and Headspace have been shown to promote positive mental health for users.

“The mental space is good because it teaches you to be mindful,” Murdock said. “Research shows that practicing mindfulness grows connections in your brain. This helps you return here and now, rather than worrying about the past or the future.

While new technologies may be helpful, Murdock comes with caution.

“It’s great that we have social media and tools like Zoom, but they don’t replace the oxytocin and the previous connections that release other hormones that make you feel good in your body.”

Struggling with your mental health? Revere Health can help

Revere Health has adopted a unique approach to behavioral health by integrating it into family medicine clinics. There are several advantages to offering both services on the same roof:

“It provides follow-up because you can address your physical and mental health in one place,” Paulol said. “It also removes some stigma when you go to a family medicine clinic because no one else in the waiting room knows why you’re there.”

Revere Health also serves as another option for those seeking treatment in their current situation.

“Sometimes if you’re looking for mental health services, it can take several weeks to see an appointment,” Murdock said. “That’s why it’s so critical for people to know that Revere Health’s clinic is open and accessible to anyone, because it’s more of a resource for people across the state.”

Visit reverehealth.com/specialty/behavioral-health/ for more information and a list of behavioral health clinics.

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