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Cathleen Wright

There’s growing recognition that mental health in the workplace is a serious issue—and one that’s larger than most employers expect. In fact, in the GTA alone, half of the working population struggles with mental health issues, whether it’s stress, depression, anxiety, or a similar issue.

It’s time for employers to take action, to improve employee mental wellness, and to reap the benefits of doing so. After all, it doesn’t just help employees, it benefits employers, too. By improving employee mental wellness, you’ll increase productivity, efficiency, and morale while reducing absenteeism, presenteeism, benefits costs, disability costs, and turnover costs. Sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?

Maybe you’ve already developed a health and wellness program in order to maximize your employees’ physical health and help them engage in their own health. But does that program have a mental health component? It certainly should.

No worries if it doesn’t. There’s still time to improve employee mental wellness in your workplace. Just use these tips.

1. Quash the Stigma

First and foremost, you need to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness as your first step to approaching mental health in the workplace. You want your employees to feel supported, to feel comfortable, and to feel safe talking about their mental health challenges in the workplace and requesting help and treatment. If you don’t succeed in this first step and quash the stigma, all of the rest of our advice will be worthless.

Create a culture of support, acceptance, and understanding. Create communication campaigns to increase education and awareness of mental health in the workplace and to promote the assistance and support programs at your organization.

2. Offer Flexible Hours

To support employees with mental illness, consider offering flexible hours. By making a policy change that can allow employees to attend weekly therapy sessions during office hours, for example, or taking mental wellness days off, you can help cut the costly mental health-related absenteeism rate at your business. Improving work-life balance by offering flexible hours can also reduce stress and improve morale.

3. Implement EAPs

Employee assistant programs, or EAPs, can give employees a way to deal with both the personal and work-related problems that could affect their job performance, wellbeing, and overall health. EAPs offer employees the resources they need to seek out proper help, which is especially crucial since the majority of those living with mental health issues aren’t in treatment.

4. Start an Exercise Program

Exercise isn’t just awesome for physical health, it’s also one of the best ways to manage mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and stress. So while your employees are getting fit and reducing their health risks, they’re also improving their mental health.

Give coupons for free yoga classes nearby, develop group fun run programs, or add an on-site fitness center, for example, in order to improve employee mental wellness through exercise.

5. Enlist Community Resources 

Maybe you’re not a mental health expert. Maybe you don’t know how best to help your employees. That’s why you should definitely enlist community resources. Invite a mental health professional to give mental health screenings in your workplace. Bring in an expert to hold seminars on stress management. Get brochures and other valuable information from your local provider community to educate your employees on mental health, signs, and symptoms.

6. Implement Incentive Programs

Offering incentive programs that reward employees for taking a stress test, completing a mental health assessment, signing up to the gym, or seeking support from your EAP can also help you maximize participation in your mental health programs for better results.

7. Ensure a Psychologically Healthy Work Environment

Workplace bullying and harassment, excessive workloads, lack of fairness and respect, and many other organizational stressors can negatively affect employee mental wellness. Identify real and potential mental health risks in your workplace and put policies and procedures in place to eliminate or minimize them.

Everything You Need to Know about Group Benefits & Insurance


Cathleen Wright

With over 30 years of experience, Cathleen possesses an ever-growing knowledge of all aspects of group employee benefits, combined with expertise in the evolving landscape of the insurance industry. She is HIAA and ADR certified, in addition to numerous other professional sales and service certifications. When not working, Cathleen can be found at home watching the Leafs or the Blue Jays, and if it’s summer, she’ll be unplugged at the cottage with a book. Year round yoga is a must to maintain serenity, and a glass of wine or a margarita doesn’t hurt!
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