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5 Proven Strategies for Supporting Employee Mental Health in the Workplace

Learn how incorporating volunteer work, incentives and educational programs can enhance well-being and productivity in your organization.

Mental Health in the workplace concept: Man typing on his computer with a messy desk and the words "MENTAL HEALTH" displayed next to a puzzle depicting a human head.
Mental Health in the workplace concept: Man typing on his computer with a messy desk and the words "MENTAL HEALTH" displayed next to a puzzle depicting a human head.

5 Proven Strategies for Supporting Employee Mental Health in the Workplace

Learn how incorporating volunteer work, incentives and educational programs can enhance well-being and productivity in your organization.

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month and employee well-being is a hot topic right now, especially in a post-pandemic environment where many employees are feeling burned out, stressed and lonely, which is impacting their mental health.

More than half of American workers say they experienced burnout in 2023, and three-quarters of respondents reported at least a moderate level of stress.

It is important for business leaders to look at how they can help their teams reach their fullest potential and provide them access to programs that can help them navigate their work-life balance, which can benefit their businesses.

Here are five tips on how to best incorporate wellness into one’s business culture and how to launch successful programming for teams around mental health to reduce the stigma. 

READ: 6 Simple Ways to Encourage Employee Wellness — Key Strategies and Benefits

1. Volunteer work

In studying the outcomes of employee wellness programs, those that are most successful in demonstrating improved well-being provide employees with the opportunity to do volunteer work.

Establish partnerships with your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and/or employee volunteer programming to maximize efforts.

For example, in May, host a “healthy” hour where employees can participate in yoga, a volunteer project and enjoy a complimentary healthy smoothie from a local business, instead of the typical beer/wine. 

2. Establish incentives

This helps encourage individuals at all levels to participate in well-being initiatives and benefits individual well-being.

For example, Brownstein has partnered with a third party specializing in wellness content that hosts an online platform in which employees can track and earn points for completing preventive exams, participating in challenges, volunteer programming and other wellness activities.

Participants earn cash incentives each quarter, and each year the firm names one grand prize wellness winner who is awarded a $1,000 cash prize, with a matching $1,000 contribution to the charity of their choice. 

READ: Transform Your Mental Health in the Workplace – Strategies for a Healthier, Happier Experience

3. Mental health education

During the month of May, offer increased programming around mental health to help reduce the stigma and educate individuals at your organization on the resources available to them. B

Brownstein is a signatory of both the American Bar Association’s Well-Being Pledge and the Colorado Pledge to Lawyer Well-Being. Both of these organizations offer industry-specific suggestions for improvement and maintenance in wellness efforts.

The Institute for Well-Being in Law encourages organizations to participate in Well-Being Week in Law each year at the beginning of May and offers free resources and content. To celebrate the week, they encourage sending daily emails with articles and resources covering five areas of health including physical, spiritual, intellectual, social and emotional well-being. 

4. Create community partnerships

Consider collaborating with nonprofits across the city and use your relationships with existing vendors to provide educational opportunities (like Lunch and Learn presentations) and leverage their content and resources.

Children’s Hospital Colorado offers a website packed with expert information and occasional free community town halls geared for parents and caretakers. The Johnson Depression Center offers a variety of free educational programs and trainings focused on mental wellness.

Most Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) offer benefits beyond just therapy and crisis support, and may offer an overview presentation for your organization.

Check with your medical insurance carrier to learn more about their menu of mental health services. 

READ: Colorado’s Mental Health Crisis — Innovative Services Poised to Improve Health Equity & Access

5. Communicate resources

Keep employees updated often about how to access the well-being benefits the company provides. Send an email weekly or bi-weekly with a brief, helpful and inspirational health or wellness tip, and be sure to include a section or one-pager in each communication on what well-being benefits are available and how to access them.

Also, make sure your HR Team and managers are educated on where to find available resources so they can easily point employees in the right direction. 

In a recent Society for Human Resource Management article, they reported employees’ confidence in how much their employers care about them has declined significantly: 48% said they have confidence in their employers caring about them in 2023 — down from 56% in 2022 and 59% in 2021.

The mental health of employees is critical. Companies that take the time to notice that this crisis isn’t going away anytime soon will see many benefits come to life when they help their employees navigate a positive work-life balance, with reliable resources needed to manage their mental health.

 

Nicole Doty is the Benefits & Wellness Manager and Jayme Ritchie is the Director of Pro Bono & Community Impact with Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. 

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