The topic of mental health has once again become a very popular one. Indeed, mental health is an important part of our well-being – especially after all the difficult events we have experienced over the last few years. The pandemic and transitioning to the new normal have both been hard on a lot of people, and many are now fighting to prioritize their health.
Unfortunately, when some of us are stuck in a toxic environment, our overall well-being suffers. When we are constantly surrounded by negativity, a lack of support, and a ton of responsibilities that add more pressure on us, caring for ourselves becomes quite a challenge. This is why organizations must be sensitive towards their workers and understand why prioritizing their mental health is important.
For instance, companies who lack proper resources to support mental health may notice that their employees struggle with:
- Low levels of productivity and poor job performance,
- Lack of engagement,
- Insufficient communication,
- Poor decision-making skills.
In general, it becomes tough for employees to function on a daily basis. Moreso, when this goes on for a long time, employees may lose interest in their job - or their organization - and resign as a result. So, if your organization wants to benefit from employees who have:
- High levels of productivity and engagement,
- Positive traits such as confidence, resilience, and empathy,
- Good coping mechanisms and stress management,
- Great cognitive, social, and emotional skills.
… then, you must start gaining awareness on the importance of mental health in the workplace and learn a variety of ways to create a positive, psychologically safe work environment!
So, how exactly can organizations do this?
One way of doing so is by planning and creating activities which promote and support employee mental health. However, before doing so, organizations must first assess the mental health needs of their workers, establish measurable plans, and measure whether or not they are effective!
These can be activities which all employees can participate in when in need of a break from work or when they want to learn new coping skills for stress, anxiety, and other related mental health issues such as:
- Group exercise or meditation,
- Educational training and seminars on Mental Health,
- Creating dedicated “zen” rooms where employees can relax,
- Weekly check-ins with team leaders and members,
- Art workshops.
Among these examples are many other fun and uplifting activities organizations can create! Once the perfect activity or set of activities has been found, it can be implemented and done as many times as needed. Eventually, this creates a work environment that is perceived as positive and supportive of one’s well-being and gives employees something to look forward to at work!
Organizations must recognize the importance of planning activities which are relatable, sustainable, and enjoyable. However, it should also be noted that caring for one’s mental well-being does not just include an individual’s mind and emotions. These activities will bring the best results when they target all aspects of being human including:
1. The Physical Aspect: Physical and mental well-being go hand in hand. When one is physically healthy, they feel strong, capable, and determined enough to withstand any negativity and obstacles that come their way. On the other hand, when one is mentally healthy, they can set their mind to anything and push their bodies to great limits! Thus, activities such as group exercise or meditation can offer great benefits to an employee’s mind and body.
2. The Financial Aspect: The fact is that people work in order to make a living. Many mental health symptoms and issues often stem from financial problems, such as depression and anxiety. Equally, many financial problems may stem from mental health issues as well, such as impulsive buying. In order to support one’s mental well-being holistically, organizations must recognize that a person’s financial situation may be a source of triggers. Seminars on managing finances, for example, may help employees build better spending habits and result in a more positive mental state!
3. The Relationship Aspect: When we talk about mental health issues, people often advise us to reach out to our close friends and family for help. True enough, when we are able to open up to them about our problems, we tend to feel a little bit better about the situation at hand. Organizations can work on this by creating team-building activities which give employees the opportunity to interact with one another and build strong bonds.
4. The Emotional Aspect: Sometimes, the state of our mental well-being goes down the drain when we constantly bottle up emotions. This happens mostly when individuals do not have any outlets where they can freely express how they feel. In the workplace, this can manifest as a fear of speaking up when employees are struggling with certain things. To give employees an outlet for their emotions, activities such as creating art or weekly check-ins with the team can allow them to express themselves and disclose any issues they are currently going through.
5. The Intellectual Aspect: At work, it is inevitable for some employees to lose their passion and motivation. This may happen because they are no longer being intellectually challenged or no longer see any opportunities for personal and career development. To prevent this, organizations can host mind-challenging activities such as escape rooms, trivia sessions, or even treasure hunts! Equally, training and seminars on gaining a new set of skills useful for work – such as data analytics skills, for example – can be offered in order to help employees grow!
6. The Social Aspect: We humans are social beings. When we spend time with friends and family, interact with strangers and so on, we gain a feeling of belongingness. When we often find ourselves alone and isolated, on the other hand, we often experience low mood and other negative mental health symptoms. To combat this, organizations can host company retreats, dinners, or get-togethers to give employees the opportunity to mingle with one another outside of work. They can also offer seminars on how to be a better communicator, for example, to aid in the development of good social and communication skills!
7. The Spiritual Aspect: Spirituality is an important aspect of mental health because it is what helps us find meaning and purpose in life. Our beliefs and values are what guide us towards achieving a sense of fulfillment, so when this doesn’t align with our work, we feel distressed. Organizations must understand that employees are not robots and they need to feel welcomed, valued, and secure. To help support this, companies can plan activities which target the spiritual wellness of employees such as meditation and mindfulness activities, volunteering and donation drives, or outdoor activities surrounded by nature!
In the end, implementing Mental Health policies may seem like an easy task. However, there still exists a big misconception about what exactly mental health is and stigma surrounding those who fight to protect their own mental well-being. Often, it is believed that giving vacation leaves or monetary compensation is enough to support one’s mental needs… but it is much bigger than that.
When promoting mental health in the workplace, organizations must tackle it holistically and consider all its related aspects. When done properly, it ensures that the implemented policies and planned activities will not only be effective but could potentially stand the test of time!
So, how would you feel if you had an organization that people are excited to work for because you are known to show care and compassion towards your employees’ well-being? Take the necessary steps towards this journey of reinvention to find out!
- The Center for Association Leadership. (2020). Data: Why Employers Should Care About Mental Health. American Society of Association Executives. Retrieved from: https://www.asaecenter.org/resources/articles/an_magazine/2020/winter/data-why-employers-should-care-about-mental-health
- Muesse, M. (2022). 14 Mental Health Awareness Month Activities for Employees. Outback Team Building. Retrieved from: https://www.outbackteambuilding.com/blog/mental-health-awareness-month-activities/
- Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2021). Spirituality and mental health. Retrieved from: https://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/mental-health/treatments-and-wellbeing/spirituality-and-mental-health
- Waters, S. (2022). Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important. BetterUp. Retrieved from: https://www.betterup.com/blog/mental-health-in-the-workplace