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Ideas to Help Improve Employees' Mental Health

Ideas to Help Improve Employees' Mental Health

Aug. 9, 2023
Companies should make sure that they listen to their employees' concerns to better understand their needs.

The importance of ensuring good mental health has been a topic front and center for most companies over the past few years. Even the government has stepped up with its announcement last week about putting mental health on par with physical health. The White House said that it "wants to ensure that people seeking coverage for mental health can access treatment as easily as people seeking coverage for medical treatment."

According to Julie Su, Acting Secretary of Labor, “Mental health care is as important to the well-being of America’s workers as medical care, and we must eliminate barriers to getting people the lifesaving care that they often need.”

To help employers create policies and programs to assist with this, a recent whitepaper, Business Case for Focusing on Employee Mental Healthused an unusual survey method. Using Brandwatch’s Consumer Research tool, they analyzed 1,304,110 Twitter posts discussing topics related to mental health and wellness in the workplace. The content was from the United States during the period of January 1-October 31, 2022.

Here are their key findings:

  • Organizations on Twitter who back their claims of supporting mental health are lauded on social media. On the other hand, organizations that showcased their mental health program but were accused of not doing so in practice were attacked.
  • Discussions surrounding mental health were driven by spikes of coverage focused on burnout with some polarizing opinions on the factors affecting it and coping mechanisms. Later in the year, “quiet quitting” was one of the most significant contributors of conversation after a TikTok post went viral.
  • Some employers are testing out the four-day workweek with mixed results, but most reactions are positive from both the employer and employee perspectives.
  • Gen Z and Millennials were the most frequent contributors to conversations about mental health
  • Employees said employee resource groups (ERGs) and peers in the workplace were critical support programs for mental health
  • Employees want benefits and policies to support their mental health such as flexibility, better time off policies, and stronger leave programs.

The report notes that “simply posting statements about mental health on social media will not be sufficient, evidenced by the discrepancy between companies’ and employees’ perspectives on the issue and disgruntled employee posts on Twitter. " So they offered recommendations companies should consider as they address workplace mental health:

Provide Benefits Such as “Mental Health Days”

Offering benefits such as mental health days or granted days off that are “specifically geared toward mental health and burnout prevention” (Forbes, 2022) is one concept that employees rallied for on social media.

Offering benefits such as mental health days or granted days off that are “specifically geared toward mental health and burnout prevention” (Forbes, 2022) is one concept that employees rallied for on social media.

Support Management to Better Understand Well-Being and Belonging

Through encouragement and training from leadership, managers should create a culture of belonging to prevent employee burnout and attrition (The Wall Street Journal, 2022). Managers should also be trained to promote well-being at work.

Invest Financially in Employee Wellness

Employers can invest in their workforce’s mental health through the healthcare plans they already offer, much like PwC did in their $2.4 billion investment in employee well-being.

There are several ways employers can take action since financial resources will vary from company to company. Some suggestions include offering free visits with a mental health professional, reimbursing the cost of out-of-network mental health support, or offering free, comprehensive wellness programs to help employees improve their mental and emotional well-being.

Provide Opportunities for Social Support

Employee resource groups (ERGs) have been lauded by employees as an effective way for companies to support employee mental health.

Creating trusted communities for peers to share with one another is a benefit that employers can provide with little financial cost.

Organizations can also provide opportunities for social networking within the organization, which is especially important if their workforce is remote. Company-sponsored events which foster a sense of community can be effective when coupled with management trained to foster a sense of belonging.

Listen to Employees About Their Mental Health Needs

Many employees posting on Twitter were forthright about what they believed organizations did well and where they fell short when it comes to mental health. Companies need to listen to their employees' concerns and better understand their needs through research (e.g., focus groups, surveys, and social analysis).

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