Mental health was once taboo to discuss in a professional setting. But now, modern workers seek employers who have robust mental wellness programs. According to a 2022 survey by the American Psychological Association, 80% of U.S. workers say that how employers support their team’s mental health is an important consideration in future job opportunities.
Over the past several years employers have made impressive strides to address mental health challenges in the workplace. Such initiatives include reducing the stigma surrounding mental health conversations, providing stipends for meditation apps, and offering floating mental health vacation days.
But Julie Lee, PhD, a clinical psychologist and associate dean at Brown University, argues that truly supporting mental health in the workplace must go beyond perks and apps. Rather, today's employers must adopt a culture of top-down organizational support, commitment, and community to meet the demands of employees.
Here, explore research-backed ways to meaningfully promote mental health in your company — so everyone can thrive in an emotionally safe and productive environment.
1. Leadership involvement
Many companies may place the job of promoting mental health awareness on their human resources or people departments — and certainly, these teams will play an important role in organizing mental wellness programming.
But to create a culture of mental health literacy at an organization, leadership — including executive-level managers — must also be involved as well.
When leaders become evangelists of mental health, all employees have permission to speak up about their challenges and feel agency to support others on their team. “It’s incumbent on company leaders to drive awareness and action on mental health,” suggests the 2020 McKinsey study, Mental Health in the Workplace: The Coming Revolution. “By talking about mental health openly and backing up that talk with significant action, leaders can de-stigmatize mental illness and signal that people can and should access the support the company provides.”
2. Ongoing workshops and trainings
While most employees are interested in more mental health support at work, it’s important to recognize that not everyone has experience talking about mental health in an inclusive way — or at all. That’s why it’s paramount for organizations to invest in mental health workshops and trainings at regular intervals throughout the year.
Such workshops may include general information about mental health as well as tangible ways managers can communicate to and support members of their team who are experiencing challenges.
Additionally, general managerial training can also boost an entire team’s mental health literacy. “Employees who don’t feel their opinions count often feel psychologically unsafe to share them, typically because they report to someone who isn’t a good manager,” explains Gallup analysts.
3. Engaged employees and corporate communities
Engaged employees report that their job has an “extremely positive impact” on their mental health, according to a Gallup study. Making an ongoing commitment to employee engagement is a core way to support workplace mental wellness.
Bringing purpose into business settings can powerfully build dedicated, engaged corporate communities. Try organizing volunteering events, social impact experiences, lunch and learns, or group activities that support nonprofit organizations. Visit.org’s extensive library of unique social impact experiences created with nonprofit partners is an easy way to integrate purpose into your company.
Bonus: Whether an activity is virtual, in-person, or on-demand, completing a meaningful experience with colleagues can improve community and culture — key pieces to solving the mental health puzzle.
Support mental health awareness throughout the year
As the stigma around mental health conversations continues to diminish, companies have a responsibility to ensure their employees are adequately supported throughout the year. Mental wellness at work does not have a check-the-box, silver bullet solution.
Rather, it’s achieved by providing a swath of employee resources that include robust health insurance covering mental health professional sessions, a culture of inclusivity and mental health awareness, and meaningful employee engagement experiences.
Learn how Visit.org can support your company’s mental wellness initiatives with social impact experiences by scheduling a demo today.