A Discussion on Mental Health in the Workplace
October 10th’s Mental Health Awareness Day brings long-overdue awareness to the state of mental health in the workplace. According to Lyra Health’s 2023 State of Workforce Mental Health report, the vast majority of workers face mental health struggles but, for a myriad of reasons, do not get the help they need.
While the world’s attention might be temporarily shifted to mental health support in the workplace because of the awareness day, we all know that it is the consistent practices, policies and conversations that happen the other 364 days of the year that create a culture that is supportive of the whole person, mental health included. The good news? Now more people than ever are discussing mental health at work, propelling a lasting culture shift (source).
This month, I wanted to open up a conversation with my LinkedIn connections about how their organizations emphasize the importance of mental health. Their responses were insightful, inspiring, and affirmed that just as there is no “one size fits all” approach to culture, there is no “one size fits all” approach to creating a mentally healthy workplace. I was pleased to hear from leaders across the healthcare, technology, and communications industries and more – I hope you enjoy their input as much as I did!
Q: How does your organization emphasize the importance of mental health? I want to hear what works for you.
A: “Being in the eldercare business, mental health is a top priority for our staff in the field and executives at headquarters. It’s emotionally taxing for everyone involved. One of the many benefits we offer staff includes grief counseling (group and individual). We develop close relationships with our clients and when there is a loss, it can be personal. Self care is vital!”
This is the perfect example of adapting your approach to the type of work, environment, and employee needs in front of you. Proactively prioritizing mental healthcare on every level, from executives to staff members, is key and is something we should all strive for.
A: “Cisco gives us several ‘Days for me’ throughout the year to take a day off and enjoy things we love, relax, recharge, etc. It is such a great way to show they value our life outside of work!”
What a great idea! Prioritizing employees’ lives, interests, and wellbeing outside of the office is critical to how they show up throughout the week. If you pour into your employees’ lives, they will pour back into your company. Thank you for this wonderful example of leadership, Christy!
A: “Authenticity. Asking the right questions. Prioritizing one on one time. Developing real relationships with your teams!”
How true this is! If you lead with authenticity and take genuine interest in your team members, you will develop real, lasting relationships. The increased trust and safety that results is invaluable.
A: “Mental health is so important! We offer a therapy stipend for all employees to promote this. Thanks for sharing this message!”
What a wonderful way to lead by example. When you prioritize, and tangibly support, the mental health of your employees, it will destigmatize the conversation and create a safe space for everyone to thrive.
I am so grateful for each of these leaders who took time out of their day to share how their organizations champion mental health. Each brought a unique perspective to the table, but were united by one common theme: in order to improve mental health in the workplace, we must treat people like people. Whether that is through building intentional relationships, taking interest in employees’ lives outside of work, or proactively identifying and supporting their needs, we can take steps everyday to make teammates feel seen, heard and valued.
I also love what Jennifer Ayres, CEO at Senscient commented, “…People need to feel loved. It’s not a word we are often ‘comfortable’ using when applied to work yet at the end of the day, work is made up of humans, and humans fundamentally need to feel loved and give love to experience joy in life!” Unstoppable Cultures believe showing employees they are not only valued, but loved, and that one extra hug or word of encouragement is so worth it. You never know what someone is going through outside of work, so it’s important to sustain a culture that listens to people’s stories, hopes, dreams, challenges and fears. When a company’s culture keeps this central to everything they do, it is bound to flourish.
P.S. If you haven’t yet heard of The Fellowship, it’s an event I founded back in 2018 to support culture builders in their effort to build and sustain cultures of enduring greatness. If you found this article interesting and want to grow in purpose as a leader of your organization, I invite you to learn more here and claim your spot today!