In recent years, the topic of mental health and psychological well-being went from being a taboo subject to a point of focus for many individuals and organizations. Those living daily with mental health struggles were suddenly unburdened of their shame and guilt and invited to speak openly about the challenges they face day-to-day. As more and more people stepped forward to share their own experiences, the question was no longer “how do we normalize this?” but more so “how can we help?” The focus shifted from awareness of the situation to support and education.
In Canada, 1 in 5 people will experience some form of mental health struggle within one year. With the struggles and pressure of career, social media, extracurricular activities and family life, it is not surprising to see people reaching out for help from time to time. Many employers are seeking ways to put policies in place to support their team’s well-being. A workforce with access to Employee Assistance Programs and other resources will ultimately be better adjusted, happier and more productive. However, the onus of improving mental health and wellness is not on the organization alone.
A positive impact on a workplace’s mental health can come from any level of the organization. It is nearly impossible for upper management to aptly lead their team while correctly pinpointing each employee’s exact needs. Therefore, we must empower every individual on the team to speak up for what is needed. Each team within a business or organization will, over time, develop a unique ecosystem of emotional and psychological needs. Perhaps they experience their own stress during a particularly busy time of the year, or customer service demands will weigh heavily on a specific group of people. If individuals of all levels and backgrounds are given a platform to speak up about what their personal issues or team challenges are, the organization can grow and evolve to the changing needs of their staff.
This can be achieved by developing a mental health and wellness committee. Inviting any interested party to come together and share their ideas and concerns with the group will not only allow various topics to be broached but is also the first step in opening communication and normalizing the act of asking for help. Taking the next step to provide training for your newfound mental health committee will allow those invested individuals to make informed decisions on behalf of everyone. It will also equip them with tools for crises.
Supplying your team with tools and resources to recognize not only mental health issues, but also ways to support themselves and others will benefit everyone. Organizations that provide these services and resources have better employee retention, reduced profit loss, increased customer satisfaction and overall happier and healthier employees. While making mental health and wellness a priority may seem like a small step, it has a major impact on your organizational health as well as in the lives of the people impacted by your team. In the end, mental health initiatives are a collaborative effort.