Mental Health

10 Ideas To Make Mental Health Support More Accessible For Employees

What are some ideas to make mental health support more accessible to employees? This question was posed to a group of talented professionals for their insights. From offering mental health holidays to flex work schedules, here’s what they had to say.

Offer Mental Health Days

Mental health Days are meant to be used when you have too much on your mind or when are feeling high levels of stress and anxiety. We can’t pre-plan how we will feel, so it’s important to allow employees to take unplanned days off.  Moreover, it is a great way to track the mental health of your employees. If someone is taking too many “mental health days” then you can reach out and support them! It’s easy to apply and simple, yet so few companies do it!

Annie Chopra, She TheQueen

Take Time to Communicate Benefits

In our brand new research on mental health, we found that employers rated themselves a “C” while the workforce rated employer support for mental health as an “F.” When you get into the data, you see that while companies are trying to make changes, these changes aren’t always felt by the workforce. We have to spend as much time communicating the changes and benefits we offer as we do actually selecting those benefits if we want to see real impact.

Ben Eubanks, Lighthouse Research & Advisory

Provide Health Coaching Sessions

Working with a qualified health & wellness coach has the potential to make a big difference in employees’ work and personal lives.  A health coach is NOT a licensed mental health practitioner. A good health coach IS a trained empathetic listener and motivator who works with people in groups or one-on-one. They help to create and work toward solutions to increase the enjoyment of life and work. 

Employers can offer coaching services onsite or remotely, in groups or individually.  The National Board of Health and Wellness Coaching (NBHWC) certifies coaches who have completed specialized coaching training, demonstrated coaching skills, have experience working with clients, and passed a rigorous exam.

Ronel Kelmen, Attainable Transformation

Include Inspiring and Regenerating PTO Perks

We all understand that employees need sufficient high-quality PTO experiences in order to stay sharp, satisfied, and healthy at work. But what really makes PTO beneficial for our mental health is when that time is also inspiring. 

For example, we offer our employees three fully paid 24-hour days per year to participate in volunteer activities. Not only do these experiences give our team the chance to step outside their work and breathe, but while doing so they’re also engaging in work that can reignite and reshape their worldviews.

Tina Hawk, GoodHire

Promote a Work-Life Balance

Make sure your employees are taking time away from work on a regular basis. This means encouraging regularly scheduled vacations and not rewarding a burning the midnight oil mentality. You may get short-term results, but this type of schedule will often lead to burnout and far less productivity and motivation. 

A great leader challenges their employees to regularly rest, recharge, and connect with their loved ones. When employees feel valued, they will be much more motivated.

Mark Daoust, Quiet Light

Host Mental Health Fairs

One out-of-the-box way to make mental health more accessible to workers is to hold a mental health fair. These events function like traditional health fairs yet focus on psychological health. Booths can give out information on practices like stress management and avoiding burnout. Additionally, you can do activities like meditation and mindfulness worksheets. Beyond providing at-risk employees with resources, you can also use these fairs as a way to educate the workforce at large about mental health and help professionals to be better allies to psychologically vulnerable peers.

Carly Hill, Virtual Holiday Party

Encourage the Use of Wellness Apps

Employers can provide free resources and access to mental health apps. It can be a way for everyone in your company to get the mental health help they need, especially to prevent burnout amongst your employees. Using an app might feel less intimidating when seeking professional help from a therapist or psychiatrist.

You might not be there to visually recognize when an employee is overworking themselves. But with certain apps, they can get reminders to take breaks and maintain healthy habits during their working hours.

Scott Lieberman, Touchdown Money

Foster a “Life Happens” Culture

A healthy company culture understands that even the highest performing employees will face unideal circumstances that may take them away from work. A culture of ‘life happens’ understands that company needs shouldn’t supersede employee needs but ebb and flow. As we navigate turbulent times as a nation, we’ve all faced the universal truth that life happens, and sometimes things are out of our control.

Amrita Saigal, Kudos

Allow Flexible Work Schedules 

A remote or hybrid work schedule creates more flexibility for employees to take care of their physical and mental health how they see fit. Workers want freedom – time to spend with loved ones, take care of themselves, and travel – promoting one’s mental health on their terms. Allow the space and flexibility for your employees to take care of their mental health at their discretion.

Breanne Millette, BISOULOVELY

Train Leaders to Create Inclusive Environments 

Smaller businesses can make mental health more accessible to employees by equipping leaders with the tools and resources to have open, honest conversations and by creating a safe space for employees to speak openly without fear of judgment. 

Creating inclusive environments for conditions like autism, ADHD, dyslexia, and dyspraxia can go a long way in making sure everyone feels supported at work. By educating people about and accepting neurodiversity, you can create an inclusive and supportive workplace where everyone can thrive.

Dan Gissane, Huxo Creative

       

Digital Health Coaching

Digital Health Coaching as a Modern Employee Benefit

Whether working onsite in the healthcare, construction, service, and hospitality industries throughout the pandemic, the stresses of the past two years have taken their toll. Employees are tired. Employee Burnout is being experienced at an extremely high rate. 

More than four in 10 workers surveyed by global staffing firm Robert Half said they are more burned out on the job today compared to one year ago. That’s a 10% jump from a similar poll in 2020. In addition, nearly half of workers surveyed, some 49%, who are experiencing increased fatigue, blame this on heavier workloads. 

As the pandemic lingers, digital health coaching is on the rise. This modern employee benefit is proving to be a critical lifeline for employees now and in the future.

New Work Models Increase Employee Burnout and Health Issues

Open-ended remote and hybrid work has exacerbated employee burnout — a syndrome outlined by the World Health Organization resulting from chronic workplace stress characterized by decreased work efficiency, exhaustion, energy depletion, and negative and cynical feelings related to a job. 

These feelings are further compounded by increased substance use, sleep issues, and chronic health issues due to the current climate. All of which have a negative impact on safety, absenteeism, and productivity. To make matters worse, remote and hybrid workers aren’t always getting the support they need to cope.

Employers Turn to Digital Health Coaching to Support Workers

Employees need to feel supported while maintaining a sense of privacy. Unfortunately, people struggling with substance abuse disorder and mental health issues are often conditioned to remain silent — to suffer alone. Especially now, workers may even view their struggles as a temporary result of the pandemic rather than an undiagnosed problem. The issues are real, however. 

Between August 2020 and February 2021, the percentage of adults with recent symptoms of anxiety or depression increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, and the rate of those reporting unmet mental health care needs increased from 9.2% to 11.7%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

With the pervasiveness of unfulfilled mental health care in America, companies can fill the void to provide employees with guided intervention — supporting employees and helping them make lasting change. Companies can accomplish these goals by adopting robust substance use health insurance and policies, improving workplace culture, educating employees to promote drug-free workplaces, and providing employees with supportive and confidential services in a digital health coaching program.

Digital Health Coaching Meets Employees Where They Are

The root of a healthy company is a healthy workforce. Yet, many employer-backed health and wellness programs struggle to attract, engage, and produce tangible outcomes for employees. In addition, traditional programs are plagued with a one-size-fits-all approach to personal struggles. Personalizing care is critical for employers who want to build a pathway that helps individual employees build a strong foundation and momentum to overcome their struggles. 

With the help of a digital health coaching program, blending cognitive-behavioral training with video-based educational modules and a vast library of impactful content, every employee can obtain support and help when they need it. In addition, by creating personalized experiences and providing targeted content that appeals to different learning styles, such programs can effectively engage employees — raising the likelihood employees complete the program and achieve positive outcomes with staying power. 

Engaging Health Coaching Programs Benefit Workers and Employers

For employers questioning whether adding a digital health coaching program to their employee benefits is worth the cost, the answer is a resounding yes — yes, it is worth it. 

Some 80% of the total costs for treating chronic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cancer, asthma, and more stem from risks and unhealthy behaviors worsened by the pandemic. These include poor stress management and standard of care, insufficient sleep, excessive alcohol, drug use and smoking, poor diet, and a lack of physical activity and health screenings. As a result, costs to both workers and employers come in the form of additional healthcare spend and productivity loss. 

Data suggest the benefits of adopting a digital health coaching program, which helps reduce lifestyle risks and unhealthy behaviors, can result in significant savings for employers and employees alike. 

Depression, for example, the second-leading cause of “years lived with disability” worldwide, is steadily linked with greater economic burden and reduced work productivity, and this was pre-pandemic. It’s also estimated to cost employers nearly $20,000 per 100 employees each year in lost productivity and additional healthcare costs. Then there’s obesity. A chronic condition gradually rising, obesity increased from 30.5% to 42.4% from 1999–2000 through 2017–2018. Obesity alone can cost employers $100,000 – $550,000 each year per 100 employees in disability, workers’ compensation, absenteeism, and presenteeism.

Enhanced Digital Health Coaching

Enhanced digital health coaching serves to lower these costs. Employees who improve their general health and complete their treatment protocols to address risky behaviors, mental and chronic health issues are less likely to require expensive interventions later, saving them and their employers in the long run. 

Employers must act as employees continue to deal with pandemic burnout, increased stresses, substance use, and other risky behaviors. In doing so, they’ll help employees address the issues they may be silently struggling with, allowing them to make lasting change and improve the health of their workplaces.