May 2024

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month!
Established to enhance public understanding of mental health issues and to promote mental wellness, May serves as a crucial reminder to address the mental health needs in our communities and companies alike.
Spurred in part by the isolation of the pandemic, ongoing political and social unrest, and increasingly open conversations on social media, the complexities of mental health have been brought into sharper focus in recent years. More than ever, employees need comprehensive support systems in the workplace.
Ready to better support the mental health of your team? Here are our recommendations to get started.
Address Workplace Mental Health
A recent report from Gallup found that employees with fair or poor mental health are estimated to take nearly 12 days of unplanned leave over the course of a year, compared to just 2.5 days for other workers. This discrepancy contributes to an annual loss in productivity valued at approximately $47.6 billion.
It is imperative to identify key stressors and develop strategies to create healthier workspaces, both physical and virtual. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has flagged poor design of tasks, ineffective management styles, interpersonal relationships, career concerns, and environmental conditions as frequent sources of anguish in business settings.
For their part, leaders must take proactive steps to reduce the stigma associated with prioritizing mental well-being. By openly prioritizing their own mental health, leaders can set a powerful example for their teams. This includes setting clear boundaries around work hours and conditions, ensuring that employees feel empowered to do the same without fear of repercussion, as well as encouraging time in the workday to tend to personal mental health needs.
Want to take this work to the next level? Reach out to us to facilitate a strategic group session with your senior leaders to develop a plan to evaluate and elevate your organization’s mental health policies and practices.
Create a Supportive Dialogue
Host regular check-ins or mental health awareness workshops that enable employees to openly share their experiences and develop coping strategies in a supportive setting. Employee Resource Groups can be an excellent venue for safe conversations around mental health, and our Culture Conversations series can also initiate these vital discussions throughout your organization.
Does your organization participate in an Employee Assistance Program? An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is a voluntary initiative within the workplace that provides employees with free and confidential support. This includes assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services for both personal and work-related issues. Establishing an EAP in your company can be an impactful step to connect your team members with resources to support their mental health, such as counseling services, crisis intervention, and stress management resources.
Promote a Culture of Openness and Inclusion
A workplace that ensures that everyone has access to mental health resources fosters a culture where employees feel valued and supported. But it can’t stop there. We also have to encourage an environment of psychological safety organization-wide.
According to Amy Edmonson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, psychological safety is, “a belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes, and that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.”
When employees feel psychologically safe, they are more likely to engage in open communication, creativity, and problem-solving without the fear of criticism or punishment. Take Google’s Moonshot Factory X, where employees were celebrated for failing, as a prime example: when the focus is on charting a path to out-of-this-world innovation, intentional risk-taking is imperative.
When team members feel secure and valued, they are less likely to experience the chronic stress that can lead to burnout, depression, and anxiety — and with that, the potential for creativity within your organization will dramatically increase.
Interested in interrogating the psychological safety of your organization? Our experts can help you design a workplace that works for everyone through our Cultivate Teams and Culture Champions programs, providing actionable strategies to enhance both individual well-being and collective productivity.
By fostering an environment that prioritizes mental wellness, we contribute to a culture of compassion and resilience. We challenge you to make organizational mental health a priority this May — and every day after!

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