…And How To Go About It
Most organizations have some form of corporate wellness program in place. It makes good sense to do so. Beyond the health benefits to employees, wellness initiatives increase productivity and reduce absenteeism. It’s good for people and good for organizations—an overall win-win. There are similar benefits to extending mental health support at work.
It’s an important step to take, as even before the pandemic, research conducted by experts at Penn State found that mental health is one of the most expensive forms of illness in the United States. But we may mitigate the issue with an investment to put education and training measures in place to protect our organizations, teams, and colleagues.
How? Adding mental health benefits to wellness initiatives is one part of the equation. We can also use corporate training to support good mental health. We can talk openly about mental health to reduce the stigma and train our employees to recognize the symptoms of mental illness so that all might know what steps to take next.
How To Use Training To Support Workplace Mental Health
We spend a large part of each day at work. Even so, the challenges of mental health in our teams, colleagues, and coworkers aren’t always easy to observe. For that reason, education, support, and training should be provided to increase mental health awareness and build confidence in teams’ abilities to handle situations correctly.
Here are 3 areas in which education can have a positive impact in your workplace.
1. Use Learning And Development (L&D) To Support Human Resources (HR)
Your team may help develop and add messaging to employee handbooks, for example. You can make your mental health policy known during onboarding training as another option. You may also choose to develop a digital training course to help HR and employees spot warning signs and know what to do. You might also create downloadable, searchable resources (PDFs or other materials) that provide a form of mental “first aid” knowledge.
2. Develop Content With Positive Messaging For Employees
Is your workplace culture cohesive, supportive, collaborative, and engaged? Do employees feel safe to make mistakes on occasion? Do they have the flexibility and/or a degree of control around schedules and decision-making? Does leadership provide proactive, clear directions and allow for employee feedback? These are all ways to support mental health as is providing information on how to access mental health services if needed.
3. Provide Leadership Training
Management can be trained to spot red flags in mental health. They may also learn interpersonal skills to de-escalate tension, use active listening skills, and use mindfulness to show empathy when preparing feedback for team members. A thoughtful, intentional approach may be taken to alleviate workplace pressure to avoid exacerbating any underlying mental health issues. Leadership should be encouraged to be proactive, thoughtful, and sensitive in their approach.
Just as most workplaces are equipped with a defibrillator for emergencies, so too should they be prepared with tools to use in the case of mental health crises. Adding that information, even if you don’t have to use it immediately, helps build interpersonal skills needed to strengthen teams.
Simply said, L&D teams can help organizations embody the values around mental health advocacy by speaking openly and showing support through initiatives. It may even be as simple as adding messaging around mental health issues, where before employees were unclear on company policy. Open communication about mental health is a positive way to encourage healthier attitudes. These initiatives may be included in training initiatives and on a scheduled basis, such as during wellness program enrollment periods. There are many options and possibilities.
If the COVID crisis and pandemic of the last year has a silver lining, it may be that it increased awareness of mental health issues. Now, we have the opportunity to elevate mental health education in the workplace to continue to support safety, accessibility, physical wellness, diversity, equity, and inclusion.
At AllenComm, we are passionate about building transformative, award-winning learning solutions that meet the needs, goals, and objectives of our clients. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if we can answer questions, provide case studies, or other examples that might be helpful.