No matter how good the work environment is, employees are bound to have struggles of their own. Whether it be chronic stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness, some of your employees could be suffering without you knowing. Not only is mental illness typically invisible, but there’s a stigma around having a mental illness that makes people reluctant to discuss it in the first place—especially at their workplace. Because of this, you should focus on not only promoting physical welfare, but mental wellness as well. Here’s how to do so within your workplace:
One way to get rid of the mental health stigma is to put your foot down about it from the start. Mental health should be something that we speak about openly and candidly rather than treating it like something to be ashamed of. There’s plenty of information out there that covers mental illness: TV shows, podcasts, articles online, and the like. Talk about it openly with your team, and you’ll be able to tell others that it’s alright to talk about these things.
Involve it in employee culture.
This shouldn’t be a once-and-done topic of conversation. Employee culture is determined from the top of the chain, so it’s your duty as their leader to keep the conversation going beyond one conversation. Take multiple opportunities to discuss mental health so it stays on everyone’s mind; doing so will encourage others to speak about it and show your employees that you genuinely care about their wellbeing. It will also demonstrate to your management team and executives that they should speak about it as well.
Encourage mental health days.
Mental health days aren’t just extra days off. Mental illness is generally an invisible illness, so even if someone seems totally fine, they could seriously be struggling with no one being the wiser. Requiring doctor’s notes as a “legitimate” reason for missing work only discourages employees from looking after their mental health, so quit that practice and allow your employees to take a break. Chances are they’ll come back the next day feeling recharged and ready to go.
Not everyone who wants to discuss their mental health issues wants their names attached to it. It can be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, especially if they’re struggling with addiction, trauma, or anything else that’s extremely personal. Encourage your employees to talk to you if they need to get something off their chest, but ensure that everyone knows these discussions are purely confidential. Privacy should always be guaranteed, and how someone uses mental health resources should never be monitored.