Life gets busy.
As a result, our mental health often gets put on the back burner as it’s an unseen and easily forgotten aspect of health.
May is Mental Health Month, a perfect time to check in on your employees’ mental health status. It’s not necessarily an easy topic to discuss, but starting the conversation can lessen the stigma while providing education.
Sadly, less than half of working adults feel employers support employee well-being, a recent American Psychological Association survey revealed.
That lack of support can be devastating to employees, especially when you consider 1 in 5 Americans are dealing with mental illness.
If you want your employees to feel supported, here are six ways to focus on employee mental health:
1. Start a Self-Help Library
Encourage your employees to dive into their mental health and self-care by doing a little reading. Start a library in the break room with self-help books they can discreetly check-out. Books on mental health, exercise and diet, meditation, and positive thinking can add variety to your library. Be sure to include some short inspirational reads employees can enjoy during lunch breaks.
2. Make Exercise a Priority
If your company has an on-site gym, round-up employees after work to get in a sweat session. Or, pass out gym memberships to your employees. If you can’t swing either, a low-key, free option: Start a walking club. Studies show that regular physical exercise can combat depression and ward off anxiety.
3. Encourage Healthy Eating
Healthy eating is tied to overall better health. When employees eat better, they'll feel energized mentally and physically. Lethargy can overtake someone’s day, making them feel depressed and even anxious about their ability to get work done. When you can, provide employees healthy snacks and catered lunches that provide essential nutrients and healthy alternatives to fast food.
4. Look at Vacation Days
Have your human resources personnel create quarterly reports of where employees are with vacation time. If employees have not scheduled days off in the next six months, ask your HR wrap to check in with them.
Some people like to save up vacation days, but it's important to make sure that they are also being used to help employees refresh. Ask HR to send a gentle reminder to employees of why it's important to take vacation days.
5. Tell Employees to Disconnect on Weekends
Employees who work too much tend to be anxious and depressed. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report found that working overtime leads to poor health and increased injury rates. Employees need a mental break in order to do their best work for you when they return from their weekends.
6. Share a Meal With Them
Slow down the work day and take a lunch break with your employees. When you leave your office and actually sit down in the break room, you lead by example in showing that socializing and breaks are important.
Invite individuals or groups of employees to sit with you during lunch, and get to know them. Studies show that connecting with others increases happiness levels. Plus, who really wants to eat lunch alone?
Mental Health Can Be Addressed Every Day
If you have a wellness committee in place, mental health should be a well-incorporated part of the programs they organize.
A few ways to keep the conversation around employee mental health going:
- Post mental health resources around the office
- Offer regular self-care workshops
- Invite a massage therapist on-site once a quarter
- Be open about suicide prevention and resources
Those suffering with chronic health issues like cancer, diabetes, and heart issues may have an increased risk of mental health conditions. Anxiety about worsening health issues can lead to isolation. Serious health issues can also cause hormonal and chemical imbalances as well, which can trigger depressive episodes.
If you see an employee suffering, reach out. Let them know they don’t have to go it alone. If needed, let them take a mental health day. It may be just what they need to regroup to get through a tough time.
Unsure of what to do for a mental health day? Here are a few ways to set your day up to unwind!