Mental health issues are unsurprisingly common in the workplace. Many employees face stress, anxiety and burnout daily due to high workloads, tight deadlines and the constant pressure to perform. The challenges of mental health can largely impact workers’ well-being and productivity. Therefore, leaders need to address it proactively.

However, there is still a stigma surrounding mental health that often prevents open discussion and support. Many employees feel misunderstood about their struggles. As a result, they may suffer in silence, which can worsen their condition and affect their work. Addressing mental health is crucial before it becomes an even bigger problem.

The good news is that there are clear strategies, outlined below, that you can train leaders on to help them support their team members’ mental health and wellness.

1.    Offer mental health awareness training.

Mental health awareness training is key, as 79% of employees report that anti-stigma training around mental health would be valuable.

Training is crucial to helping managers and teams recognize the signs of stress and understand how to provide support. It is also critical for reducing the stigma associated with mental health by building a more empathetic and understanding workforce.

However, the same survey highlights how only 23% of employers implemented an awareness campaign in 2021. This highlights the need for more proactive efforts from organizations. When implementing mental health awareness training, the topics typically cover:

  • Identifying symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression.
  • Learning approaches to conversations about mental health.
  • Ways in which the organization offers such support.

When leaders become more vocal about mental health and provide knowledge and tools, the workplace becomes more inclusive and supportive for everyone.

2. Promote work-life balance.

Work-life balance is essential to enhancing mental health and well-being in the workplace. This includes flexible work arrangements, such as remote options and adjustable hours. Employees who can manage their work schedules are likelier to feel less overwhelmed.

According to a survey of 3,500 employees, 81% valued flexible work schedules as a key factor in job satisfaction. Implementing policies encouraging a healthy work-life balance lets managers help their teams better control their professional and personal commitments.

As a training professional, you can advocate for these policies in meetings with senior leadership and stakeholders by reiterating their impact on employee well-being and, ultimately, productivity.

3. Incorporate regular check-ins.

Regular check-ins are important because they allow leaders to connect with their team members. It also helps them understand their current challenges and what solutions they can offer for support. Additionally, managers can address issues before they escalate.

Studies show that regular check-ins benefit people. One survey found that 52% of college students benefited from regular wellness check-ins with school administrators, and this concept could easily be applied in the workplace through regular check-ins with direct supervisors, training professionals and department leaders. With consistent communication and support for mental well-being, managers can create an environment where employees feel heard.

4. Provide access to and communicate mental health resources.

Mental health resources are a great investment in a team’s mental health. These often include counseling services, mental health app subscriptions and self-help tools. These resources offer employees professional guidance when they need it most. This ensures they have access to the necessary help to manage their mental health effectively.

Organizations should prioritize access to these tools and services because it can increase job satisfaction and morale. Employees with resources to support their mental health learn how to manage stress and become less likely to call off work.

Again, you can reiterate the importance of these benefits in your meetings with key stakeholders. It’s also important to ensure employees are aware of the resources available to them by sharing key information in training programs and in supplemental materials or communication channels (e.g. newsletters, emails, chat groups, etc.).

5. Encourage physical activity and wellness programs.

Wellness programs have been shown to have numerous benefits for mental health, including improving depression and anxiety and reducing stress. Additionally, physical activities increase energy levels and enhance overall well-being.

Leaders can promote physical activity by organizing regular fitness challenges, offering gym memberships or providing on-site gyms. Employees should also feel encouraged to take regular breaks during the workday to manage stress and stay focused. Companies can do so by training them on the benefits of yoga and meditation and providing a dedicated space for such activities.

6. Normalize mental health days.

Just as employees need time off to recover from physical illness, they also need time to address their mental health. Acknowledging this importance helps to reduce the stigma and encourages workers to take the necessary time to care for themselves without feeling guilty.

Normalize mental health days by including them explicitly in company policies and reviewing them during onboarding. When companies see this as a legitimate and necessary part of self-care, team members can feel supported in caring for themselves.

A Call to Action: Prioritizing Mental Health in the Workplace

Leaders must recognize the growth of mental health issues in the workplace and must take action before they impact company productivity. Burnout, stress and depression are common among workforces, and implementing certain strategies can create a healthier work environment.

Continue to cultivate openness about mental health and well-being by training leaders on the strategies outlined in this article. Leaders who keep discussing its importance in the workplace will be better able to support their team members’ mental health and well-being moving forward.