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Health & Well-being

Mental Health Awareness Month in May: Strategies and Resources

April 19, 2022

Mental health is health. Our mental well-being is what makes us human and is integrated into every aspect of who we are and influences the possibilities for what we can become.

“Without mental health, there can be no true physical health.” – Dr. Brock Chisholm, the first director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO). And there’s data to back that up. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), people with depression, for instance, are at higher risk of other medical conditions, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s disease

When it comes to the workplace, employees don’t check their mental health at the door (or virtual workplace); it makes or breaks their ability to perform. Poor mental health and stress can negatively impact employee job performance, productivity, engagement, and even everyday functioning.

Conversely, positive mental health can help people:

  • Realize their potential
  • Cope with stress
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their community

The Mental Health Continuum

Mental health is not a binary state – you are not either mentally healthy or ill.

There’s a mental health continuum — and everyone falls somewhere on it. Today, it represents an inclusive approach to mental health. But it was not always that way; over the years, several different models of the continuum have been developed. Some of the first mental health continuum models relied on the outdated idea that “mental health” is simply the absence of mental illness.

These models looked at “health” and “illness” as two separate states of mind — and never examined the relationship between them. It’s crucial to recognize is that mental health is not static – we all have the potential to drive ourselves towards the positive end of the spectrum.

How You as an Employer Can Help

Make mental health services more accessible

Consider the following ways to make mental health services more accessible:

  • Offer mental health support with low or no out-of-pocket cost to employees. These services could include covered benefits by insurance, as well as virtual care technologies.
  • Expanding EAP support and number of EAP sessions.
  • Offer an additional layer for support through 24/7 access to counseling or Mental Health Coaching through a third-party vendor for mental well-being support at any time for all aspects of life. This experience needs to match how employees consume information – offering robust self-serve digital engagements, innovative technology, and a responsive experience.

Listen to your workforce

Survey your population or conduct focus groups to get their feedback on your company’s mental health offerings. Refine and prioritize your strategic initiatives based on these insights. Ensure you can be transparent and timely about the feedback, decisions, and next steps.

Connect people to resources

Do your employees (and leaders) know what mental health support resources you already offer?

Ask leaders to famil­iarize themselves with your company and community’s mental health benefits and offerings. Consider hosting a companywide training on mental health at the start of each new year. Highlight the resources you already have for supporting emotional well-being and ensure your leaders can offer a warm referral to employer or community resources when appropriate. Consider forming an Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to leverage helpful mental health resources from peer-to-peer as well.

Integrate mental health into your well-being program

Mental health support is more accessible if it’s part of a more extensive program that people know, trust, and are already engaged. Ensure mental health is weaved throughout your well-being program, mainly because it impacts every aspect of your employees’ health. Remember, most people don’t wake up and think about their mental health. Meet them where they are and guide them to tools and support from there.

Encourage leaders to take care of themselves

For organizational leaders to truly create a culture that supports mental health and employee well-being, they must first take care of their own. Self-care is more than bubble baths. Feeling your best starts with getting enough sleep, eating nutritious meals, maintaining boundaries, and moving your body.

Train and empower managers to support mental health

  • When organizational leaders prioritize and are open about their mental health struggles, they empower employees to do the same. These exchanges help to break the stigmas.
  • Employers aren’t expected to know the difference between an employee going through a challenging life event and those with major depression. Nor are managers expected to be counselors and therapists. They do, however, have an organizational responsibility to create environments that promote well-being, recognize when their people are struggling, and guide them to supportive resources.
  • Train managers to foster an environment of trust and safety, recognize the signs of struggle, and arm them with tools and skills to lean into these conversations confidently and impactfully.

Commit to a mental health action plan for your organization

Outline the steps that need to occur, who will take ownership, and how and when each phase will roll out. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) can help you get started with the Pledge to be Stigma Free.

Mental Health Awareness Month Resources

Check out the following resources available to build your own plan for mental health awareness month.

Reach out to your Hylant representative or health strategist to learn about developing a mental health and well-being strategy for your workplace or to access more mental health awareness month resources.

Complete the form below to download our Guide to Supporting Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace.

Hylant EB – Guide to Mental Health & Well-Being in the Workplace

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Maddison Bezdicek Health Strategies Practice Leader

As Health Strategies practice team leader, Maddison supports the Health Strategies team with technical resources, team training, and project management to ensure Hylant is offering innovative health & well-being strategies to our clients.

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