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Diane Swisher May 23, 2022 3 min read

Rethinking Mental Health

Did you know that 75% of people who experience mental distress try to resolve their issues without professional help? And 95% search for answers on their own, typically online, using unvalidated resources.*

Organizations of all sizes are rethinking how they take care of the mental health of their people using a holistic perspective. This has quickly become the topic of conversation among benefit leaders as they examine the programs they offer, through an equity and inclusion lens, in the wake of the COVID pandemic. Benefit leaders are questioning whether their programs actually meet people where they are, and oftentimes the answer is no. Leaders recognize that age, disability/ability, gender, sex, race, nationality, color, religion, marital status, and so on need to be considered if they’re ever going to achieve an equitable and diverse workplace where all feel welcome. And this is especially true when it comes to mental health.

So what is your organization doing to create a culture that focuses on mental health and provides support for people in crisis?

May Is Mental Health Awareness Month 

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year’s theme is Together for Mental Health. This is a great time to remind employees about how they can use their benefits to improve their mental and emotional well-being. A communications campaign that highlights your benefits, programs, and resources about mental and emotional well-being, and engages leadership in the delivery of that messaging, can encourage your people to use those offerings. Take, for example, a mental health awareness campaign that a multiemployer group promoted last year. This group increased awareness about the type of help and resources available through their program with quarterly home mailings, direct emails to the members, and business manager outreach. Because of these efforts, their employees’ utilization of their Member Assistance Program more than doubled.

Two Important Audiences

The stress caused by the pandemic has hit people managers especially hard. Not only have they faced their own personal challenges, they’re also on the front lines supporting employees. Consider providing dedicated communications to managers to help them recognize mental health challenges in themselves and others—and to point them to relevant resources. For example, you could provide talking points for managers about where to go for help and how to use the benefits. If a manager has a team member who needs help, they’ll be able to connect the person with the right resources. 

Also, don’t forget about family members. The multiemployer group mentioned above saw employee assistance plan utilization rates from family members alone climb as high as 60%. Consider sending mailings such as postcards or newsletters to your employees’ homes instead of handing them out at work. This is an effective way to reach everyone, not just employees. Family and home life is an important component of your employees’ overall well-being.

Creating a Culture of Support

Use these tips to help your organization come together in support of mental health awareness now and throughout the year.

  • Stay positive and don’t be afraid to talk about mental health. The month of May provides the perfect starting point for special promotions and announcements that feature your organization’s mental health resources. 
  • Breakdown barriers to resources. With three-quarters of the population using self-help tools, they can’t be located behind firewalls with special VPN access or complicated login procedures. The information and resources must be easy for employees and their families to access. If you don’t already offer self-care resources that can be used easily and anonymously, consider doing so. This is why we love CredibleMind—a digital curation and education platform designed to make it easy for people to access credible, valid, and helpful online resources—including apps, podcasts, videos, programs, articles, and books. It’s a one-stop shop for mental well-being, designed especially for self-care—no login required. 
  • Fight the stigma. Not everyone is going to be comfortable with the discussion about mental health. Be open to feedback, and show your team that you understand. Help them focus on how to best help themselves by promoting the available benefits and programs.

We're proud to work with organizations that value their people. If you want to learn more, we’d love to talk

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Diane Swisher

Diane Swisher, VP Senior Consultant, has more than 15 years of experience helping organizations develop and execute employee communications strategies and campaigns.