Mental health is something that a lot of employers feel uncomfortable talking about, but in a world of greater acceptance and understanding, it’s important to open the door for discussion. A huge part of creating a positive work environment starts with ensuring the well-being of your employees, and with 1 in 5 people in the United States experiencing mental illness, this is a topic that affects nearly everyone.
Here are some tips on how to make your office more mental health friendly:
Keep your door open.
Having an open-door policy makes you more aware of the needs of your employees and understand them better as people. A lot of people struggle with feeling like they aren’t being heard, so letting them know that you are willing to listen is a huge step forward.
Shut down office gossip.
Whether we like it or not, office gossip happens. But it has no place when it comes to the subject of other people’s mental health. Creating a safe space starts with you. Think about having a Mental Health First Aid course for everyone in the office. This not only equips you with the tools you need to help counsel your employees but also educates the larger group on how to communicate about mental health.
Make your policies clear.
In an ideal world, every company would have an unlimited sick day policy, but that can’t always happen. Make sure that your policies on sick days, personal days and vacation days are clearly defined so there are no gray areas. If your policy doesn’t seem mental health friendly, then take another look at what you can do to fix it. Think about adding extra personal days in slower months, allowing work from home days and encouraging your employees to take the vacation and personal days they do have.
Recognize when your employees need help.
If someone comes to you with concerns about their mental health, then offer whatever resources you have available. Find out if your company has any counseling services or recommendations for mental health professionals and provide their contact information. In addition to this, ask your employees if there is anything you can do to help. Often talking about the issue and trying to understand can be a huge relief for the person reaching out.
There is always something you can do to support your peers who struggle with mental health. If you want to learn more, then check out this article by SHRM—it gives some great advice on accommodating people that struggle with mental health.
Is your company doing its part to help create a mental health friendly environment? We’d love to hear more and help when we can! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to continue the conversation.