Since 1949, the month of May has been observed as Mental Health Awareness Month. 1 in 5 adults suffer from a form of mental illness, affecting both their personal and professional lives. This month is an opportunity to provide support and resources for those struggling, while also fighting the negative stigma surrounding mental illness. It is also a time, as an employer, to assess how your organization considers the wellbeing of your employees, especially when it pertains to mental health support.
Employee assistance and benefits
Adina Goldman, Principal at Green Key Resources and Head of Corporate Human Resources, mentions the importance of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). “EAPs offer a wide variety of resources to employees, including those pertaining to mental health. Mental health resources through the EAP include counseling and therapy provided by licensed mental health professionals, in addition to general support for maintaining one’s mental health as it relates to work and home life. A significant component to an EAP is confidentiality,” she adds. “It’s important for employees to understand that engagement with the program is confidential, which we hope will encourage them to feel comfortable taking advantage of the resources offered.” Because EAPs are accessed online, employees are able to seek treatment in a private manner at home and on their own time.
Wellness programs and acceptance
In addition to medical benefits, Adina also recommends that your organization hold wellness webinars. “These webinars are great because they afford employees the opportunity to engage with one another over a topic of mutual interest,” she says. “This type of experience creates room for connection and relationship building among employees who may not otherwise interact with one another, which we hope will help foster a greater sense of community within the organization.” In addition to mental health awareness, topics of wellness webinars might include work life balance, financial management, sleep management, and exercise and nutritional tips.
“Another key component to offering EAPs and wellness webinars is encouraging, and not forcing, participation,” Adina emphasizes. “Mental health and wellness in general can be aspects to an employee’s life that are very private, and it’s important to be respectful of personal preferences. Some employees may be very open to discussing and engaging on these topics in group settings, while others may prefer to address them privately. We’re advocates for participation in the programs that we offer, but we understand that each employee has a different comfort level. This is why diversifying the programs offered is so beneficial. It creates a greater opportunity for employees to engage in whichever way that is meaningful and comfortable for them.”
Making the effort
Working professionals want to know that their employer is willing to take care of them, as many are prioritizing their mental well-being before money and success. Mental health can affect all aspects of a person’s life, and this includes their productivity at work. As an organization, you want to create an accepting and inclusive environment, where your employees can easily access helpful resources, while also feeling comfortable doing so. Together, through education, supportive programs, and open conversations, we can end the stigma and remember the value we each hold.