BEYOND THE EAP: ADDRESSING MENTAL HEALTH AT WORK
Positive mental health is crucial for overall well-being, productivity, and job satisfaction. Promoting mental health in the workplace will benefit both employees and employers by reducing absenteeism, improving performance, and creating/maintaining a positive work environment.
Some employees have mental health struggles that have nothing to do with their jobs, and others may struggle because of the job. It’s important for employers to know the difference and support their employees accordingly.
Working while dealing with mental health issues can be daunting. Sometimes this is temporary — due to a life event or personal circumstances. Other times, your employee may have a diagnosis of a mental illness, such as anxiety, depression, bi-polar disorder, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), to name a few.
Because most HR professionals are not trained to handle mental health issues, it’s important that they have adequate and viable resources when employees come to them with their problems. They likely can’t solve them, but they can support them. The question is — how?
Human resources should be able to provide support in a myriad of ways. Many companies that offer benefits also have an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which provides resources to assist employees in resolving personal problems that impact their personal and professional life. However, with mental health needs at a crisis level and insufficient support available to meet the demand, what else companies offer besides the EAP?
Here are some ideas that have seen some success:
- Raise awareness: Provide educational resources, workshops, and training sessions to increase workplace mental health awareness and understanding of mental health issues.
- Implement policies: Develop policies that prioritize employee well-being, including flexible working hours, reasonable workload expectations, and time off for mental health.
- Foster open communication: Encourage open dialogue about mental health and create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their concerns.
- Provide resources: Offer access to mental health resources such as counseling services, wellness initiatives, telehealth, and work-related self-care strategies.
- Promote work-life balance: Encourage employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance by encouraging breaks and vacations, and discouraging excessive overtime. Also, offer personal or mental health days without repercussion.
- Reduce stigma: Implement anti-stigma campaigns around mental health, provide training to managers and employees on mental health issues, and ensure confidentiality and privacy for those seeking support.
- Lead by example: Leaders and managers should prioritize their own mental health and well-being and set an example for their teams.
By recognizing the importance of mental and emotional well-being, implementing proactive measures and mental health policies in the workplace, and destigmatizing mental health conversations and providing support for colleagues with mental health issues, you can build a healthier work culture where individuals thrive and flourish.
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