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How can employers meaningfully support employee mental health?

I am not sure we know the answer to this question yet. I think most employers want to provide support but are unsure of how to do it, what is too much and what is not enough?

Here are three simple steps to start thinking about how you can provide mental health support to your employees.

  1. Take the cultural temperature around mental health and wellness. Are people openly talking about feeling stressed, depressed or anxious? Do people tend to hide their stress or troubles? What is the language like- do people use terms like “crazy”or “whacko” when referring to other people that are having a hard time? Just observe and take note of what you see and hear, and of what you don’t see and hear. This information can be informative as you start to develop a program to address employee mental health.

2. What kind of preventative measures are in place to support employee mental

wellbeing? Do you have any type of Employee Assistance Program? Any ongoing educational webinars or groups that address stress management, wellness, depression or anxiety? If so, how well were they promoted and attended? If you don’t have any preventative services, are there any barriers preventing this kind of programming?

3. How do you handle issues when they come up? Do you have an established and

functional Employee Assistance Program? Do you have direct referral support? Do you have support at the ready in the event of a crisis?

For most employers, any approach has been mostly reactive in nature, focusing on what to do once there is a problem. But what if we were able to provide our employees with the tools to prevent and manage many of the mental health concerns that we all experience?

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