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Navigating Mental Health Support in the Workplace

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How do companies approach mental health support?

In search of innovative strategies to support mental health in the workplace, we gathered insights from founders, CEOs and other executives. From integrating mental health into everyday work life to anonymous mental health days, discover seventeen unique approaches that can improve workplace wellness.

  • Integrating mental health into work
  • Introduce flexible working hours
  • Create a mental health menu
  • Incorporate mindfulness meditation
  • Promote open communication
  • Set up a mindfulness zone
  • Offer mental health days
  • Encourage artistic expression
  • Combination of pet therapy and shortened work week
  • Build a supportive peer network
  • Organize mental health workshops
  • Create a wellness program
  • Conduct regular mental health check-ups
  • Promoting physical health for mental well-being
  • Apply biophilic office design
  • Conduct events to promote mental health
  • Allow anonymous mental health days

Integrating mental health into work

The pandemic has increased workaholism and led to unprecedented levels of employee burnout. While it's important to reward employees well and give them enough time off, we believe it's important to take things a step further by building mental health support directly into the fabric of the workplace.

We recommend a holistic approach that encourages longer or more frequent breaks specifically designed to refresh and rejuvenate the mind. Even more innovative: We advocate giving employees time during the working day to attend therapy appointments. Not only does this normalize mental health care, but it also signals to employees that their well-being is a priority, promoting less an "anti-work culture" and more a culture of support and communication.

Introduce flexible working hours

Supporting mental health in the workplace can be addressed by introducing a flexible working hours system. This means that employees are free to choose their working hours as long as they complete their tasks and meet deadlines.

By structuring working hours flexibly, employees can better respond to their psychological needs, for example by attending therapy sessions or taking breaks when necessary. This approach also promotes work-life balance and reduces stress and burnout among employees.

Create a mental health menu

A unique approach I have taken to supporting mental health in the workplace is to create a mental health menu - a tailored list of options that employees can choose from to support their well-being.

This menu includes unconventional offerings like meeting-free Mondays, access to a meditation app, outdoor walks, and a mental health day bank separate from regular vacation days. Encouraging employees to choose what truly supports them recognizes individual needs and promotes a culture where mental health is a priority and not just an afterthought.

Include mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a unique approach to supporting mental health in the workplace. This practice is about focusing on the present moment and accepting thoughts and feelings without judgment.

By incorporating mindfulness techniques into everyday work, employees can learn to manage stress and reduce anxiety. Some examples of mindfulness techniques include deep breathing exercises, body scans, and guided meditations. Employers can provide resources and training on mindfulness techniques to help their employees deal with workplace stress in a healthy way.

By fostering a culture of mindfulness, employers can create a supportive and mentally healthy work environment for their employees.

Promote open communication

Promoting open communication between employees and employers is a unique strategy for supporting mental health in the workplace. Many employees are reluctant to talk about their mental health issues because they fear being stigmatized or judged.

However, by creating a safe and supportive environment for open communication, employees can feel more comfortable talking about their problems. This can lead to mental health issues being identified and treated early to prevent them from becoming larger problems. Employers can also provide resources and support for employees to seek professional mental health services when needed.

Set up a mindfulness zone

A unique approach we have implemented to support mental health in the workplace is the creation of a Mindfulness Zone - a dedicated space with calming elements such as soft lighting, comfortable seating and a selection of incense sticks and crystals known for their stress-reducing properties, such as  Amethyst and lavender incense.

Employees are encouraged to use this area to meditate, reflect, or simply take a moment to breathe on stressful days. This initiative not only provides a physical space for mental breaks, but also signals our commitment to our employees' well-being.

By integrating mindfulness practices and the calming influence of crystals and incense, we have seen a noticeable improvement in overall morale and a decrease in stress-related complaints. This approach promotes a supportive environment where mental health is prioritized and cared for.

Offer mental health days

Implement mental health days: designated days off that employees can use to recover their mental health, independent of standard sick or vacation days. This recognizes that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Encouraging artistic expression

I love any kind of initiative that encourages personal creativity as this can really contribute to self-care at work. Self-care and maintaining one's well-being should not only take place at home, as this does not contribute to a healthy work-life balance.

I think it's important to encourage artistic expression as a means of self-care. Initiatives like art workshops, creative writing sessions, or even designated spaces for employees to display their creative work can be an outlet for emotional expression and stress relief.

It may even be helpful to organize art therapy workshops led by trained professionals. Art therapy has been proven to have positive effects on mental health as it allows individuals to express and process their emotions through creative activities. Organizing art and wellness competitions that encourage employees to set personal creative goals can also be beneficial. Whether it's completing a certain number of pieces of art or exploring a new artistic skill, these challenges encourage continued self-expression and growth.

Combine pet therapy and a shortened work week

In an effort to promote mental health in the workplace, we introduced a novel strategy that combines on-campus pet therapy with a four-day work week. This unique approach is based on research that shows the stress-reducing effects of caring for pets and the positive impact of a shorter work week on employee well-being.

By integrating pets into our work environment and moving to a four-day week, we are offering our employees multiple options to support their mental health. The presence of pets provides a source of comfort and companionship and allows employees to take short breaks during the day to engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress relief.

Additionally, the move to a four-day work week provides employees with more time to rest, recharge, and engage in activities outside of work, further improving their overall well-being. This combined approach not only satisfies the immediate need for stress relief, but also promotes a culture of work-life balance and employee satisfaction.

Cultivate a supportive peer network

A culture of shared accountability can promote mental health in the workplace. At Redfish Technology, I made sure that when employees see someone struggling, they are encouraged to speak up.

This isn't about snitching on someone or going straight to HR - a peer-to-peer support network can look very different, e.g. in the form of a buddy system or a Slack channel where you don't have to talk about work.

It is important to convey that we are a family and like a family we care for each other. This may sound cheesy, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

The result is an office where employees reach out when they're feeling down or stressed and aren't ashamed to ask for help.

Organize mental health workshops

A unique approach to supporting mental health in the workplace is to offer mental health days as part of the company's vacation policy. Unlike traditional sick days, mental health days allow employees to take time off to prioritize their mental well-being without having to provide a detailed explanation or medical note. This recognizes that mental health is just as important as physical health and encourages employees to prioritize self-care when needed.

Additionally, employers can host regular mental health workshops or seminars that cover topics such as stress management, mindfulness techniques, and building resilience. In these workshops, employees receive practical tools and strategies to improve their mental well-being and better manage workplace stressors.

Create a wellness program

We are just as convinced of the importance of mental health in the workplace as we are of the quality of our products. One of the first things we did was develop a wellness program specifically for our employees.

Working in the beauty industry can be very stressful. That's why we have integrated mindfulness exercises, yoga and regular wellness check-ins into our work culture.

We also offer flexible work options to help you manage your commitments and stress levels. This might mean changing your work schedule, working from home if possible, or taking more time for yourself.

We have also created an internal support network where employees can talk openly about their difficulties and ask colleagues or managers for advice without fear of consequences. We also offer professional counseling services for those who require more in-depth support.

By creating an environment of mutual support and understanding, we strive to improve the overall health and well-being of our employees. Ultimately, a healthy and satisfied workforce is the basis for the long-term success of our company.

Conduct regular mental health assessments

A unique approach to supporting mental health in the workplace, which I have found to be very effective in educating and supporting all employees about mental health, is to encourage managers and leaders within the company to become aware of mental health to be aware of their employees and conduct mental health screenings.

If managers and leaders of all types are able to conduct some sort of mental health check-up on all employees, then employee attitudes and performance are sure to improve dramatically. There are many ways to perform these checkups and they should be scheduled at least once a month. If your company has one-on-one meetings between employees and managers, managers should be encouraged to ask the employee how they are doing and whether there have been any issues at work that have impacted their mental health or work performance.

All, if not most, team meetings should mention and remind at least once about what resources are available for employee mental health, and should be encouraged to speak to managers if there are any issues during the workday with mental health.

Promoting physical health for mental well-being

In my opinion, a great way to promote mental health in the workplace is to focus on physical health. As a health professional and fitness enthusiast, I can say that physical well-being has a huge impact on mental health.

It's a good idea for employers to encourage physical activity and offer things like gym memberships or exercise classes. This can really help with mental well-being. Providing healthy snacks and encouraging good eating habits can also improve employees' mood and energy levels.

Rely on biophilic office design

Based on my decades of experience with office furniture and commercial workplace design, I advocate for incorporating elements of biophilic design into office spaces as a unique approach to promoting mental health.

Incorporating natural elements such as plants, natural light and organic materials into the office environment can have a profound impact on employee wellbeing. Strategically placing green plants, incorporating biophilic patterns into furniture design, and optimizing access to natural light not only improve the aesthetics of the workplace, but also promote stress reduction, increased productivity, and overall psychological well-being.

Ergonomic furniture that supports correct posture and comfort contributes to physical health and reduces the risk of musculoskeletal problems, which in turn supports the mental health of employees. I believe that by using biophilic principles in office design and furniture selection, companies can create a nurturing and supportive environment that prioritizes employee mental health and well-being.

Host mental health events

One unique approach I have seen is peer support and workshops that focus solely on mental health. Ambassadors would champion these efforts and lead various events.

These events would promote awareness of various mental health campaigns and provide advice on how to deal with different types of mental health issues. This is a good way to destigmatize these issues in the workplace and allow people to normalize and prioritize mental health. This, along with the fact that companies set up mental health days, creates an environment where people feel safe and comfortable voicing their mental health concerns.

Allow anonymous mental health days

Employees can anonymously request a paid day off specifically for mental health and self-care. We encourage activities such as therapy sessions, mindfulness exercises or simply unwinding to recharge your batteries. It's about normalizing prioritizing mental health, just as you would take a sick day for a physical illness.

In summary, supporting mental health in the workplace demands a comprehensive approach that integrates innovative strategies like flexible working hours, mental health days, mindfulness practices, and peer support networks. IceHrm can aid in implementing these initiatives effectively, ensuring a healthier and more productive work environment where employee well-being is prioritized.

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