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How to Talk About Mental Health at Work 

Learn how to talk about mental health in the workplace & ways to support your team's well-being for Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond!

#Work-Life Balance
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Workplace mental health & your company culture 🧠

Mental Health Awareness Month is a great opportunity to open up the conversation about mental health support at work. This year, take this opportunity to assess your current workplace wellness and make adjustments to improve your employees' mental health.

Did you know 1 in 4 people suffer from poor mental health in America? (Hopkins)

That means that people in your workplace might be living with mental health issues. Raising awareness and supporting health in the workplace will make for a happier, healthier work environment. Additionally, it’ll even help with employee retention and satisfaction!

Basically, it's a win-win for everyone. 

This mental health awareness month, we want to help your employees feel better both mentally and physically, for a more positive overall environment.

Do's & Don'ts of mental health conversations at work

Benefits of mental health awareness 🙌

Talking about employee mental health support in the workplace can feel taboo. But it’s time for us to break the stigma surrounding mental illness, seeing as it’s a health problem that so many people are dealing with on a daily basis.

As a team leader, it’s your responsibility to promote employee mental health and open up the floor for honest conversations about personal wellness and stress. By having candid conversations and unconditional support, you will find a positive reaction overall. Including:

  • Increased kindness and empathy in your employees. 😃
  • Team members that are more comfortable seeking help. 💬
  • Less stress, and a more productive work/life balance. ⚖ 
  • Employees who are excited to show up and do their job, knowing that they are understood and supported by their employer. 🤝
  • A happier and better workplace for everyone. 👯

But breaching the topic of employees' mental health can feel borderline impossible. We’re here to help you make it a little easier, by taking it one step at a time. What better way to wish you a happy national mental health month? 

How can you talk about mental health? 💬

Talking about employee mental health isn’t easy, but it’s important. Before starting the conversation, you have to recognize that not everyone is ready to have it in the first place. 

Your role as a leader is to give your staff the space to join the conversation if they’re ready, and the option to sit it out if they’re not. 

Here are some tips that can help you open up the floor for conversations about mental health resources and advocacy for employers. And, additionally, we talk about being a part of the conversation as an employee!

4 ideas on how employers can talk about mental health at work 🔎

As a leader, there are ways that you can make the conversation about workplace mental health easier. With a little bit of work (and a lot of compassion), these conversations can be comfortable, productive, and (dare we say it) fun. 🎉

👇 Here are some ways to make these conversations easier!

🙅 1. Don’t single people out.

This is not the time to use your staff as an example (save that for when they’re doing a stellar job). Keep the conversations broad, and make sure that no one feels like you’re talking to, or about, them specifically.

🤝 2. Be respectful of different comfort levels.

Make sure that your employees have the choice to opt-out of conversations that make them feel uncomfortable. Not everyone is ready to have conversations about mental health, and that’s okay! 

It’s also important to steer clear of language that could be potentially triggering to someone who is living with a mental illness. You can work with your HR department to understand what language is potentially harmful. And, of course, listen to any employee feedback you receive.

👂 3. Be receptive, not dismissive.

Make it clear that you understand that mental well-being is a journey with peaks and valleys. When an employee expresses their struggle, listen and offer your support. Make it clear you take their health seriously. 

🗣 4. Be open about your own mental health.

If you struggle with mental health problems, and you’re comfortable enough, open up about them! Your employees will be grateful to know that they’re not alone and that their leaders aren’t some kind of superhuman impervious to struggles.

4 tips for employees who want to talk about mental health in the workplace ⭐

As an employee, you are the only one who can know your true comfort level in conversations surrounding workplace sustainability and mental health. 

If you’re up to it, be receptive and open to your employer’s approach to mental health awareness, and be honest about the way that it makes you feel. There are people in your company that want to advocate and be a resource for you. 

Quote from Lee about mental health and work-life balance
Check out more of Lee Rubin's thoughts in this BuiltIn article: 20 Ways to Promote Work-Life Balance at Your Company!

It’s important to put your own well-being first, especially regarding the topic of mental health. So, here are some tips to approach taking care of your mental health in the workplace:

🤔 1. Understand your own comfort level around the discussion

If discussions on mental health in the workplace stress you out, don’t be ashamed to remove yourself from the situation. Your comfort is a priority, especially in this instance.

💬 2. Be transparent about how your mental health affects your job

If you know that your wellness is affecting your performance, be upfront with your leadership or HR professionals. A good employer will help you find a solution that works for everyone.

💁 3. Provide suggestions on how your manager can support you and your peers

Your manager should be receptive to ideas on how best to improve mental health benefits and make your work environment more comfortable. If you’re struggling, reach out to leadership privately and start a conversation about how to make your work situation better.

👯 4. Work with your Human Resources department to get the accommodations you need

There is no shame in needing extra support or accommodations when you have health problems. 

Your HR department should be able to connect you with mental health services and resources, and provide you with the support you need to thrive in the workplace.

3 strategies for managing well-being and stress in the workplace 💪

While employee mental health has always been a hot topic in the workplace, it has become even more critical over the past two years. 

With many employees working from home, it has become increasingly difficult to separate work from life. This can lead to burnout and can take a huge toll on us mentally and physically. 

As an employer or team leader, it’s important for you to be making an active effort to support your employees (and yourself) in managing your well-being and stress in and outside of the workplace. Let’s cover a few ways to make that happen:

🤩 1. Lead by example

Proactive conversations about employee mental health challenges and workplace well-being have to start from the top. 

If leadership isn’t creating an environment that encourages employees to prioritize their wellness, then employees will be reluctant to speak up. More than just starting and encouraging conversations, leading by example means:

Taking these actions will not only help you feel better, but it will show your employees that you’re serious about helping them.

💓 2. Conduct company pulse checks

Regularly check in with your employees long after Mental Health Awareness Month is over. 

You can do this anonymously, and encourage team members to submit new ideas on how the company can improve its wellness efforts and best support its staff members. You’ll never know what’s really going on behind the screen unless you ask.

🤸 3. Embrace flexibility and individuality

When it comes to mental health, different employees will need different levels of support.  

Have your managers work directly with their team to learn the best way to support their employees and protect their mental health. 

Embracing the different ways that your employees work and best handle their workload will improve their mental health and help them feel unconditionally supported in their careers. 

This is an obvious win for your employees, and a not-so-obvious win for you because it will increase your employee retention and satisfaction rates!

3 wellness initiatives you should adopt ❤️

Add well-being initiatives as a core part of your company culture to ensure employee happiness.

Truthfully, mental health is a heavy topic to approach with your employees, but health and wellness can be fun! It’s not all about wellness checks. Sometimes, it’s about mental health benefits and team building

Here are three initiatives you can start this mental health awareness month:

💪 1. Offer a stipend for healthy activities

Offer an employee assistance program to use on at-home gym equipment, pay for their gym membership, or take a fun workout class.

You can also encourage healthy eating by incorporating benefits like a dinner delivery coupon. These kinds of perks can contribute significantly to reducing stress and improving overall life satisfaction by providing easy, nutritious meal solutions after a long workday.

🎊 2. Encourage workplace fun

One of the best ways to improve mental health at work is to encourage workplace fun and host enjoyable team-building activities.

🧠 3. Offer mental health days

If you can, give your staff days off (or half days) to focus on taking care of themselves! 

💡 Confetti has a “take what you need” policy when it comes to time-off. 

We understand that things happen that can take a toll on our well-being. We also understand employees don’t want to use vacation days to deal with the more exhausting, unexpected aspects of their lives!

Therefore, we allow our team to take days off for life’s “surprise” hardships without cutting into vacation time or missing pay. 

Being there for employee mental health 💚

At the end of the day, Mental Health Awareness Month is just another opportunity for us to support our employees. With all the work that they put in for you and their team, it’s important to remember to give that effort right back in regards to their mental and physical well-being, and employee experience.

👉 Ready to break the ice and talk about mental health at work? Start with an experience from our Health and Wellness collection!

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