The importance of mental health as a pillar of our overall well-being is now well-recognised and established.
But if you're still looking for ways you can support your team members' mental health, there's no better place to start than with the World Health Organization’s definition of mental health.
Here are the first two sentences, which should act as a fantastic starting point for your focus on employee well-being:
“Mental health is a state of mental well-being that enables people to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn well and work well, and contribute to their community. It is an integral component of health and well-being that underpins our individual and collective abilities to make decisions, build relationships and shape the world we live in.”
Let’s explore how you can support and achieve this in your company.
7 actionable ways you can support your employees’ mental health
1. Develop a mental health and well-being plan
Why you should develop a mental health and well-being plan
Developing and implementing a clear mental health and well-being plan and policies demonstrates your commitment to these areas.
How to develop your mental health and well-being plan
Involve your Human Resources department – and potentially other senior business leaders and perhaps even mental health professionals – to create a plan and policies that address things like:
- The mental health support your company provides to its people.
- The resources you have made or will make available to help support your team members’ mental health.
- Anti-stigma efforts so your team members feel comfortable and empowered to speak to the relevant people in your company about their mental health, especially if they feel like they’re struggling.
2. Offer mental health training
Why you should offer mental health training to your teams
Mental health training can raise awareness and understanding across your workforce, leading to early identification and intervention where people are potentially struggling with their mental well-being, delivering quicker and better long-term recovery outcomes.
How to provide mental health training
Host regular sessions covering mental health awareness, stress management tips and techniques, and communication skills.
You could even take things further and host company meditation or yoga sessions. Doing this means you'll be showing your team members how to safeguard their mental well-being and just telling them.
3. Promote work-life balance
Why you should promote work-life balance
Overwork, stress, and even seemingly innocuous tasks like checking emails, Slack, or workplace WhatsApp groups outside of working hours can worsen mental health issues. There is a wealth of evidence that shows working long hours or being unable to "disconnect" from work leads to both psychological and physical health problems and decreased productivity.
How to promote work-life balance
Encourage initiatives like flexible working hours, ensure team members take regular breaks and don’t eat lunch at their desks, and discourage a culture where overworking or working long hours is considered positive.
Share our guide to improving work-life balance around your company, too!
4. Provide access to mental health resources
Why you should provide access to mental health resources
Providing access to mental health resources is vital in facilitating early intervention and treatment. There’s even more value in providing access to external resources, too, so your employees can access support privately if they prefer this approach.
For example, all Group health insurance plans at Now Health International come with access to our Employee Assistance Programme, which, as of 2023-24, includes a raft of mental health and well-being support, including five free counselling sessions per plan year.
How to provide access to mental health resources
Offer an Employee Assistance Programme, even if you don’t offer private health insurance to your employees, provide information to colleagues in your offices about local mental health services and support, and consider subsidising therapy sessions or well-being activities.
5. Develop a supportive workplace culture
Why you should develop a supportive workplace culture
You’ll reduce any stigmas around mental health and encourage open conversations about this topic.
How to develop a supportive workplace culture
Encourage open discussions among your team, create peer support groups, and, if possible and the people concerned are happy to do it, consider having your senior leadership team share stories about their mental health journey and how they manage their well-being.
6. Regularly assess and adjust how you support your team
Why you should regularly assess and adjust how you support your team
Supporting your employees' mental health isn't a "one-and-done" deal. By visibly continuing to regularly assess and adjust how you support your team members' well-being, you'll show your people that you're taking their mental well-being seriously and are always looking to enhance that support. Regular assessments also mean you can act quickly if a new issue, concern, or trend requires immediate attention.
How to regularly assess and adjust how you support your team
Conduct regular surveys – at least twice a year as a minimum, but ideally once per quarter – gauging employee engagement, satisfaction, and mental health. Use the findings to make any necessary changes. If you work in a large company, consider doing these on a rolling basis, where you survey different departments each month. This approach will help you spot and track trends more closely and make smarter decisions around workplace well-being.
7. Encourage physical health and facilitate physical activities
Why you should encourage and facilitate physical activity
The link between physical and mental health is now widely known and accepted, while regular exercise can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
How to do it
Organise workplace wellness challenges or activity days outside the office, provide free or subsidised gym memberships, and host regular sessions on the importance of physical activity and maintaining a balanced diet.
3 reasons to support your employees’ mental health
1. Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism
Poor mental health leads to increased absenteeism and presenteeism – when someone shows up to work but is underperforming. A study conducted by the UK’s Centre for Mental Health found that these factors due to mental health alone cost tens of billions a year.
2. Enhanced employee engagement
Various studies demonstrate that employees who feel their well-being is supported are more engaged and committed. Start your internal employee engagement monitoring as soon as possible and start seeing these results yourself!
3. Improved talent attraction and retention rates
A 2019 study by the United States-based non-profit Mind Share Partners found that younger people, particularly, highly value mental health support at work and are more likely to apply for, accept, and remain in roles at companies that offer this.
Supporting your employees’ mental health is a non-negotiable!
Supporting your employees' mental well-being is – or should be – a non-negotiable for your business. On top of the moral aspect of doing so, putting a framework in place to support your team members' mental health is a wise strategic decision, too. You'll create a more supportive, productive, resilient, healthy and happy workforce and find that your investment in mental well-being brings many benefits to your business culture and success.