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How you can start building mental health awareness in your organization

Five tips to help employees care for their mental health

By Erin Terkoski Young, MSW, MBA, LICSW | March 21, 2023

May is Mental Health Awareness Month – a great time to take stock of your company’s mental health programs and your own emotional wellbeing journey.
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Approximately one third of employees report struggling with depression or anxiety, according to our Global Benefits Attitude Survey. And employers are well aware of the toll the pandemic has taken on employees emotional health as they have ranked enhancing mental health and emotional wellbeing programs as their top priorities in 2023, according to our Best Practices in Healthcare Survey.

With the increased focus on mental health, it’s an ideal time to raise awareness and reduce the stigma, especially in the workplace.

Managing mental health begins with understanding and awareness. Understanding what mental health is, why it’s important and how employees can begin to address their mental health needs is the reason for May’s Mental Health Awareness Month.

Promoting awareness for mental health takes time and careful consideration. Here are five actions you can take now to prepare for a successful Mental Health Awareness Month:

  1. Plan a mental health awareness campaign and timeline: Actively promote mental health awareness by encouraging people to wear ribbons or green cloths, holding a fundraiser and hosting guest speakers. The key to awareness is keeping a regular cadence to sustain engagement and using various methods.
  2. Build an internal mental health toolkit: Identify a dedicated space for managers and employees to access information on mental health. The dedicated space could be a physical space, such as a break room, or a virtual space such as a dedicated intranet site. Your mental health toolkit could include vendor/partner information, fact sheets, educational information, articles, information about physical health topics that impact mental health, social or financial wellbeing resources, links to videos, help line information, and discussion topics. Good sources of publicly available content include National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) or Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
  3. Contact your vendor/partners: Reach out to your vendor/partners that are pivotal in mental healthcare and access, especially your employee assistance program vendor and your health plan partner. Inquire about their offerings during May, special content, flyers, interactive bulletin boards, educational workshops, group webinars or programs that you can leverage for your employees.
  4. Plan an event or companywide challenge: Dedicate time and space for a mental health event or challenge during May. Options include leadership fireside chats, guest speakers, webinars, or group discussions that highlight mental health, decrease stigma, and build awareness. Fold in fun activities into your campaigns and challenges, too.
  5. Promote self-care: Encourage employees to take time for themselves, whether that is a mid-day self-care break or taking a mental health day.

Mental Health Awareness Month presents an opportunity to drive attention to mental health issues, reduce stigmas associated with it and support employees in caring for their mental health. How can you make Mental Health Awareness Month a success in your organization? Check back on WTW throughout May for additional mental health content.

Author

Senior Director, Health, Equity & Wellbeing, WTW
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