Navigating Mental Health: Implementing Systems to Cultivate Support

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I’ve been thinking and talking about it a lot lately as the month gets closer. From social dynamics to emotional and physical well-being, mental health affects us in many areas of our lives. That impact can carry over to the workplace, and People Operations must have systems to assist and support employees.

When I think about Mental Health discussions in the workplace, I think about what is needed so an employee feels comfortable discussing it or reaching out for help. The common themes I keep coming back to are transparency, trust, communication, and acceptance. 

Three ways to support mental health in the workplace

Here are three ways we have implemented systems that can address those themes to facilitate support.

1. Establish regular employee check-ins across the organization

Employees meet with their managers weekly for 1:1s that cover successes, upcoming projects, feedback, and future goals. Employees also have meetings with the CEO and People Operations a few times a year. 

This consistent communication facilitates connections between employees and various individuals within the company, which makes it easier for employees to connect with someone they would trust and feel comfortable reaching out to.


2. Model transparency and acceptance

Employers and leaders can help create a culture of acceptance by being vulnerable and transparent. We encourage employees to embrace this by updating their Slack status when taking their dog for a walk, going to the gym, or taking a lunch break – which means, as organizational leaders, we need to do the same thing. This use of emojis provides a touch of fun and levity and a sneak peek into our personal lives. 

For a fully remote company, transparency becomes a necessity. How many times have we muted ourselves during a call because a dog was barking or school-age children came home and needed a snack? Being open about these aspects of our lives creates opportunities for genuine check-ins, building trust among colleagues, and demonstrating acceptance of each other's lives and realities.


3. Provide resources

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to promote mental health support and awareness in the workplace is by ensuring that resources are easily accessible to employees. This can be achieved through various means, including Employee Assistance programs, mental health days, and flexibility. 

Additionally, many health insurance companies also provide resources as part of their offerings, including subscriptions to meditation apps at no additional cost, access to therapists, mental health hotlines, and educational resources, to name a few. 

And remember: benefits are only valuable if your employees actually use them, so take steps to increase adoption.

By implementing these resources and support mechanisms, employers can demonstrate an authentic commitment to prioritizing employee mental health that smooths a path for employees to access the solutions they need.


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