When it comes to promoting well-being at work, creating proactive options that help people improve and maintain their mental health day-to-day is key to helping employees flourish. Here are some proactive options to promote mental well-being at work, both as an employer and as an employee.
As an employer:
The most vital action an employer can take is to offer resources for both broader mental health and those who need clinical services.
Making clinical services accessible is critical for employees experiencing mental illness. However, the majority of workers don’t need clinical care — they need mental health support.
Often during trying times, employees need help with coping skills, managing stress, and building up resilience. Strengthening their overall mental fitness is important for them to be both happy individuals, but also productive contributors to your team.
Below are six strategies employers can use to promote mental well-being at work:
1. Employee assistance program (EAP). An EAP is a work-based program that traditionally assists employees with personal or work-related problems that may be hurting their job performance or well-being.
An EAP is provided to employees at no cost and can assist with issues like relationship challenges, traumatic events (i.e., workplace violence), legal problems, wellness matters, and a broad range of other issues.
Employees can access services online, via phone, video or email, or face-to-face.
2. Relaxation spaces. Dedicated quiet spaces for relaxation activities give employees the opportunity for mid-day breaks to unwind and de-stress. Equally important is making it culturally acceptable to take breaks and use these spaces. Leaders and managers can set the tone.
3. Mental health self-assessment tools available to all employees. Self-assessment tools provide questionnaires and tools to assess mental health concerns.
These tools don’t provide a diagnosis but rather help explore if further assessment or resources would be beneficial to the employee.
For instance, tools may include:
- Mental health meter quiz
- Mood assessment checklist
- Work-life balance questionnaire
- Assessing your current situation questionnaire
- Online alcohol and drug help center
- Online mental health check-up
4. Free or subsidized clinical screenings for depression. Clinical screenings from mental health professionals that provide feedback and clinical referrals when appropriate. The effort of seeking evaluation and treatment can otherwise be a barrier.
5. Free or subsidized mental well-being coaches. Coaching services from certified coaches to help employees navigate challenges and strengthen their mental fitness.
6. Health insurance with mental health benefits at no or low out-of-pocket costs. Provide free or inexpensive health care coverage for prescription medications and mental health counseling.
As an employee:
To promote mental well-being at work, employees should encourage employers to offer stress management education and mental health programs that meet their needs and interests.
Employees should also understand policies around how to take a mental health day off work in case the need arises.
Additionally, here are six strategies employees can use to promote mental well-being at work:
1. Take part in employer-sponsored programs and activities. Employees should take advantage of employer programs to learn skills and obtain the support they need.
2. Share ups and downs with others. To help reduce the stigma around mental health, employees can share more of their own experiences with other co-workers when appropriate. Unless you feel very safe, this is more about sharing your humanness than getting into details — co-workers can’t substitute for mental health professionals.
3. Practice coping skills during the workday. To cope with daily work stressors, employees can practice skills that promote healthier mindsets, relationships, and self-image.
Coping tools may include:
- Deep breathing
- Healthy communication
- Prioritization and focusing on one task at a time to avoid being overwhelmed
- Using positive self-talk
4. Practice self-care on lunch breaks. Daily lunch breaks are more than just opportunities to eat — they’re also the perfect time to practice self-care.
Practicing self-care during lunch breaks may include:
- Listening to inspirational podcasts
- Deep breathing
- Going for a short nature walk
- Using the emotional freedom technique (EFT)/tapping
5. Take care of their physical health. Employees can set themselves up for mental health success by taking care of their physical health. This includes eating healthy meals, exercising regularly, and getting plenty of sleep.
6. Nurture relationships. Nurturing social connections at work is key to preventing social isolation and loneliness in the workplace.