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Mental health at work: 5 ways to support your employees

Like it or not, the mental health of just one employee can impact your entire office. Why is that? Because much like a virus, it’s contagious. Employees can inadvertently spread emotional, social, behavioral and cognitive patterns to their coworkers—for both good and ill.

How can it be both? One tiny drop of emotion (e.g., stress, anxiety, excitement, etc.) can cause ripples—again, good or bad—throughout your business. So, while positive and uplifting emotions can raise the morale of all employees, negative emotions or attitudes can have an even stronger and more dispiriting effect on your company’s culture. 

And that’s where you can make a difference. 

Why you should support your employees 

As a business owner, you’re not only tasked with your own mental health awareness. You’re also responsible for the mental well-being of your employees to an extent. Are you responsible for what happens outside of work? No. But how employees are treated and feel at the workplace rests on the shoulders of you and your management team. 

Positive mental health in the workplace is helpful for everyone, as well as for your business. When you support your team’s mental health, there are many benefits to be gained for you and your employees, including: 

  • Higher productivity 

  • Lower rates of absenteeism 

  • Healthy work-life balance 

  • Better family relationships 

  • Higher quality work 

  • Better working relationships within the team 

  • Improved employee engagement 

  • Increased employee loyalty and retention 

Now that you know why you should support your team, let’s talk about how you can support them.

How to support your employees

While mental health issues carry fewer stigmas these days, there’s still a lot of work to be done. As a business owner, there are things you can do for yourself, your employees and your business that can put mental health in the spotlight to get the attention it deserves. Here are five ways to support your employees’ mental health: 

Understand the impact of mental health on employees

You want to recognize when your employees are in emotional distress so you can be proactive and assess their situation. Participate in mental health training, along with any other managers or leaders in your company, to promote mental health awareness—and take an active and invested interest in the well-being of your team. 

Include mental health coverage in your health care plan

Be sure to include adequate support within your health care plan. This can consist of mental health-related services and holistic care, like acupuncture, massage therapy and chiropractors. Including these services and encouraging your employees to participate will help improve not only their mental health but their emotional and physical health as well. 

Establish an employee assistance program (EAP)

Separate from mental health coverage, an EAP helps support mental health in the workplace and can help employees resolve personal issues outside the workplace—before they interfere with their professional performance. These issues could include family situations (e.g., divorce, childcare, adoption), recovery from substance abuse or traumatic events, career transitions, social or professional relationships, and even travel. 

Use communication to reduce stigma

Employees may often feel embarrassed to need assistance with their mental health. As a business owner, you can create open and consistent communication with your employees regarding their well-being and mental health. Set up one-on-one meetings with your staff on a regular basis to check in on how they’re doing or if they need support in any way. Also, be sure to let your employees know how you’re doing or if you need help—it’ll be easier for them to open up if you do the same. 

Promote mental health as an important tenet of your company culture

Your culture can say a lot about the mental state of your workplace. Celebrate healthy self-care habits, enforce work-life balance, encourage your employees to take mental health days when needed, and regularly remind them of the wellness and mental health benefits available.

It’s also important to remember to take care of your mental health. Your team will look at how you react to stress and anxiety, whether you take mental health days or if you place high importance on mental wellness for yourself. This is where you can really lead your team to success. It all starts with you. 

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