Mental health conditions cost the U.S. $193.2 billion in lost earnings every year, making them a priority for every company. Mental Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to provide mental health communication to employees in ways that are simple, cost-effective, and stigma-free.
It’s time to talk
Gone are the days when companies only focused on using benefits to address illnesses or chronic conditions. In their place is an emphasis on total well-being. Because mental health is just as important as physical health, it’s time to ramp up the conversation around mental wellness.
The way people think and feel impacts their overall quality of life, how they relate to others, their perception of happiness and satisfaction, and even how they function each day. The pressures of balancing work schedules, financial situations, changes at home or work, and relationships can be overwhelming and stressful, making it difficult for people to feel happy, healthy, and productive. Having strong emotional and mental health truly influences every aspect of life.
Overcome the challenges
When we look at the numbers, we find that millions of people deal with mental health issues annually. While studies have shown that 1 in 4 people are affected by a mental health problem each year, that number rose significantly in 2020 due to the pandemic. One poll conducted in July 2020 stated that 53% of adults reported their mental health has been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
Despite the prevalence of mental health issues, many are reluctant to talk about them. Unfortunately, the stigma that comes with these challenges has far-reaching impacts. The reality is that the average person takes 11 years to make a mental health related appointment. Often, people who are dealing with a mental health issue hesitate to reach out for fear of how others will react or because they don’t know where to turn. Effective and compassionate communication can lead employees to get help sooner.
Begin where you are
Most companies already offer benefits that support mental health. By highlighting the features of these benefits, employees can get more value and support. Some of these benefits include:
- Employee Assistance Program: EAPs typically offer 24/7 assistance online and on the phone as well as benefits for in-person counseling sessions.
- Medical Benefits: Most medical plans offer coverage for inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services, making it easier for people to get help.
- Telemedicine: Virtual therapy appointments bring the counselor to you, making it an affordable and convenient option.
- Wellness Programs: By incorporating and encouraging positive behaviors like exercise, sleep, and stress management, participation in wellness programs can improve emotional and mental health.
- Paid Time Off (PTO): The majority of Americans (over 55%) aren’t using all of their time off benefits, giving you a prime opportunity to encourage employees to take time off of work for physical and mental health rejuvenation.
Take it to the next level
For companies that are looking to enhance their mental health benefits, there are a variety of partners out there that can help. Some of these include meditation apps like Headspace and Calm, which provide tools for stress management and building resilience, and Shatterproof, which offers substance abuse and addiction resources. Investing in additional resources that provide personal support delivers a host of benefits to employees.
In all things, begin with empathy. People struggling with mental health concerns are often doing so in silence. When we begin the conversation with compassion, it will be more effective and connect better with employees. Here are some examples of how to communicate mental wellness:
- Create monthly newsletters that cover a variety of wellness topics.
- Organize the plans and programs in your benefit guide based on areas of wellness, such as physical, mental, and financial health.
- Offer helpful tips about the benefits of deep breathing, quality sleep, fitness, and nutrition.
- Incorporate healthy habits into the workday by encouraging walking, stretching, and meditation breaks.
- Send postcards, mailers, and emails highlighting your company’s mental health benefits.
The cost of not communicating about mental health is much higher than the price of any mental health communications campaign. Placing a spotlight on total wellness helps both employees and employers. By taking small but important steps toward supporting mental health, employers can make a big difference in the personal and professional lives of their workforce.
Ready to get the conversation started? We’re here to help.