Mental Health Awareness: How to Prioritize Your Employee’s Mental Health

That's not a valid work email account. Please enter your work email (e.g.
Please enter your work email

According to some research , 90% of employees say that workplace stress has affected their mental health. If you want to avoid poor mental health problems for your employees, you need to set strategies to support them.

May is known as Mental Health Awareness Month, so this is the perfect time to show your employees that you care about their mental wellbeing. 

However, this is a difficult subject to discuss, especially since there is so much stigma attached to mental illness. As HR experts, we know how important it is to incorporate these initiatives into your company culture, so keep reading to see what strategies you can try.

Why Should You Care?

With 800 million people  in the world having some mental health disorder, there’s a good chance that you have an employee who has a mental illness.

Prioritizing employee mental health shows your employees that you care about them and want to ensure that they’re happy and healthy. Employees report that they feel stressed and burnt out both in their personal and work life, which means that you can try and relieve some of that stress. 

In addition to that, if you don’t emphasize care for your employees, it can affect their physical health and performance, hurting your revenue. If you don’t focus on mental health initiatives, you could have low productivity, safety liabilities, disengaged employees, a lower profit, and a higher turnover rate. For example, studies  have shown that depression can interfere with an employee’s ability to complete cognitive tasks 35% of the time and physical tasks 20% of the time. 

To fix that, you need to implement mental health initiatives and show your employees that you care about your employee’s wellbeing. 

Evaluate Your Mental Health Initiatives

If you already have some existing mental health initiatives, you’re already taking a step in the right direction. However, it doesn’t hurt to review them. If you don’t have any, you’ll need to create some. 

You’ll need to first understand how the mental health in your organization is. Sending out a survey will help you identify different factors, support systems, and areas to make improvements. You can start by sending an anonymous survey to your employees. You don’t need to make it an entirely formal process, but you may want to ask questions covering a few main topics. 

For example, you might want to ask them if they think good mental health policies are in place. You can also ask them about their workloads. Are the workloads manageable and suitable for them? Do they feel stressed out too often? What levels of stress do they feel throughout the workweek?

Do employees feel like they have a chance to learn and grow in their field? If they have opportunities to keep learning, they’re more likely to be engaged and happy in their position. 

You’ll also want to ask questions about their work environment. Whether in-office or at their home, is the workspace generally a friendly, welcoming environment? Or are there problems like low morale, bullying, and rude employees? 

Once you get the answers to this survey, you’ll know which areas you need to improve. Addressing these problems might seem daunting to some business owners, but many employee assistance programs will help you improve the mental health environment at your business. 

Promote Connection

Whether your employees are working in the office, remotely, or in a hybrid environment, it’s essential that all employees feel a sense of connection and togetherness with their coworkers. If they don’t feel connected with the rest of their team, this could cause mental health problems. 

Managers can help create that connection by having weekly one-on-ones with their employees and setting aside time for meetings and team bonding. These events or meetings can help develop a sense of community and promote the team’s mental health. However, you may want to host events that will allow employees to bond with employees outside of their department. Hosting these events can be difficult in a remote environment, but there are still ways that you can have that connection through zoom or in-person company retreats. 

Make sure that you’re allowing your employees to connect with their family and friends. Work and home life are often connected, and it’s essential for everyone to feel like they’re supported. To ensure that they can connect with their family and friends, don’t overload your employees with work and have a good work-life balance. 

Reduce and Manage Stress

When you identify the main stressors for your employees, address them. You might need to create flexible hours, hybrid work models, or remote working for people who are too busy. 

If people are stressed because they’re overworked, you might need to hire more staff, use contractors, look at your budget, or prioritize projects over others.

Encourage Employees to Use PTO

You should make sure that your employees have an excellent PTO package so that they don’t have to worry about not being able to take enough time off. However, if they have a good package, you’ll want to encourage them to use it. 

According to one study , in 2018, there were 768 million unused vacation days. However, there has also been research done that people who plan out their vacations and use their PTO are happier in several areas of their life, including at work. 

Even if they don’t go on a vacation, employees can still use the time off to find enjoyment outside of the workplace and focus on recharging. 

Schedule Mental Health Days

In addition to good PTO, offer mental health days to your employees. You could either incorporate them into your sick days or have a different package offering. Offering mental health days can encourage employees to take time off for their mental wellbeing while also removing the stigma around needing to take a mental health day. 

Even if your employees aren’t in the middle of a mental health crisis, this can encourage them to take a day off if they’re too stressed or depressed to work. You might consider offering at least one mental health day a month. This can be a great benefit if you don’t offer unlimited PTO. 

Offer Mental Health Coverage

In addition to an employee assistance program, make sure that you offer mental health benefits included in the health insurance package. This will ensure that they have the mental health resources to handle it and talk about it if something does come up. 

Mental health services can be expensive, but your employees are more likely to take advantage of them if they have health insurance coverage. Some of the health insurance services the insurance should cover include therapy, substance use treatment, and inpatient services. 

Set Up Regular Check-Ins

To ensure that your efforts are working, it’s best to have regular check-ins with your employees. Ask them how they’re doing and see if there’s anything you can do to help them. Making these conversations routine can help decrease the stigma around talking about mental health problems. Eventually, employees will feel more comfortable coming to you when there is a problem. 

However, managers still need to respect employees’ boundaries. Some people may not want to discuss those issues with their employers, and managers need to respect that. However, they should still have an open-door policy if the person changes their mind. 

When one of those employees does decide to talk with the manager, they should treat them just like everyone else instead of making a big deal about them finally wanting to talk. Doing this will help ensure that they feel comfortable and have a good experience to encourage them to do it again. 

Offer Flexible Hours

Everyone has a busy life, and you can promote work-life balance by having flexible hours. When you don’t have set working hours, your employees can start late to accommodate mental health appointments or take care of their children. This also allows them to leave their computer in the middle of the day to do things that will promote their health and enhance productivity. 

Give employees a window of hours they should work or let them work at their own pace as long as they work around eight hours each day. 

Flexible hours can be a benefit that improves the quality of work rather than hindering it. They can create their schedules and work whenever they feel most productive. It will also show that you trust your staff, which can empower them to be confident, improving their mental health. 

Start Prioritizing Your Employees’ Mental Health Today

These are only a few of the top ways to prioritize workplace mental health, but there are many other strategies that you can try. We know that this can be difficult to discuss, but we’re here to help you out.

As human resources experts, we have all of the best tips to help you run a successful business. 

If you are looking for the latest business and HR insights, check out our online recruiting publication, Recruiter Today


Get the top recruiting news and insights delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up for the Recruiter Today newsletter.

By Alyssa Harmon