Continuing to Support Mental Health in the Workplace

The pandemic made it clear that people were (and are) struggling with mental health concerns. Efforts to destigmatize mental health issues abound. Celebrities, sports personalities, and others have all spoken up about their battles with mental health. Yet, some people feel that since we have gotten past the critical point of the pandemic —where hospitals are no longer overwhelmed with treating people suffering from the effects of COVID— it’s time to move on. But I say, not so fast. We need to keep the momentum going and expand our efforts to bring awareness to the issues surrounding mental health well-being. Employees finally feel safe enough to talk about their concerns. Employers should not attempt to return to “normal” work life. Employers should not abdicate their responsibility to their employees by simply pointing them to their employee assistance programs (EAPs). This subject is too important to employees and to the workplace culture for employers to just “sweep it under the proverbial rug.” Employees’ mental health concerns have not disappeared. Neither should conversations about them nor resources to help manage the concerns disappear. The floodgates were opened and there is no going back. If employers were genuine in their concerns for their employees and their desire to make workplaces better for staff at the height of the pandemic, then employers should continue providing supportive, safe spaces and reliable resources. 

This article discusses five ways employers —specifically, managers of people— can improve their staff’s mental health in the workplace. The author suggests that “Changing the culture of the workplace to allow for open and honest discussion about emotional well-being can begin with you [managers]. As managers and senior leaders, you can start normalizing mental health discussions by talking about how you are feeling.” The article admonishes managers to “accept that you will not understand everything someone else is going through and continue to show up for them.” When employers engage in practices that allow employees to feel psychologically safe at work, employees can bring their whole, genuine selves to work, have a place where they feel a sense of belonging, and as a result, may be willing to seek emotional help when needed. These employees are more likely to trust the employer and remain with the employer for some time. The article concludes by stating, “We now know that focusing on mental health is not only the right thing to do for employees, but also a smart decision for the business [library].”