Mental Health in the Workplace: What Can Leaders Do?

/ May 20, 2021 May 20, 2021

Every year, 1 in 5 adults in the United States struggle with their mental health but only 1 in 3 receive the treatment they need. As a result, employees may not be performing to their best ability and leaders need to know how to support them, both professionally and personally. Here are four things leaders can do:

  1. Raise Awareness – The first step to reducing mental health stigma in the workplace is acknowledging it exists. Leaders should be open about mental health in the workplace and encourage employees to do the same. Reinforce that health includes not only physical but mental health and provide an easily accessible list of resources should an employee need help. Provide opportunities for mindfulness and wellness and encourage employees to make mental health a priority in their own lives.
  2. Training – In order for leaders to be able to properly identify the warning signs, they must know what to look out for. Employees may not feel comfortable openly expressing that their mental health is struggling or that they need to take time off due to burnout. Training and development programs can not only teach managers possible symptoms, but it can also help leaders overcome their own biases about mental health. It can encourage employees how to have productive mental health conversations at work and debunk any myths or misinformation. Adequate training can help leaders properly support their teams and foster a workplace culture of inclusion.
  3. Checking in – With many organizations still working remotely part-time, it’s important for leaders to overcommunicate with their teams around working hours and priorities but be empathetic and realistic when setting expectations. Don’t assume employees are handling everything well; check-in with how they’re doing and ask if they need any additional support or modifications. These conversations can remind employees it’s okay to be honest and ask for help as needed. Leadership teams can also send out anonymous surveys to get an idea of how the company overall is handling their mental health and if outside resources need to be brought in.
  4. Updating Programs, Plans & Policies – The last year has been a challenging time for most people, and past policies or programs may not be as effective today. Consider offering flexible work schedules or paid time off and be understanding if employees don’t respond as quickly as they once might have. Use performance reviews as a time to provide constructive feedback and learning opportunities, instead of focusing on missed targets. Look into adding low-cost mental healthcare into your benefits plan, especially as finances can often cause stress and anxiety.

If your organization is interested in prioritizing wellness or looking for additional help supporting your employees, please fill out the form below to connect with our experts.



Sources: Gallup, HBR