Breaking down the stigma, building up employees
Are you, or someone you love, the 1 in 5? Twenty percent of all adults live with a mental health condition: anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and many others 2,3.
Mental health conditions are common throughout the United States, affecting over 40 million Americans, and 10 million of those individuals live in North Carolina. Mental health is the focus of many conversations in the media and even on popular television programming, so it’s no surprise that the topic of mental health and well-being is gaining momentum in corporate wellness. We’re hearing buzzwords like mindfulness, resilience, EAP and stress management. And so you may be wondering what these mean for your organization and how they can be included in your overall strategy.
Mindfulness is defined as “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.”
You can incorporate mindfulness into your organization by:
- Hosting a “mindful minute.” Whether it is one minute or 15 minutes, you can use time throughout the day to lead guided breathing exercises or take a walk outside! Disconnecting can help employees refocus and come back to their work stronger.
- Reminding staff to be present during meetings. It’s easy to be distracted when we see an important email from a client, or when we’re facing a deadline. However, individuals who aren’t present in a meeting will likely not participate the way you expect. Take a few moments before each meeting to clearly state why you are gathered and if you notice the focus going elsewhere, bring them back to the task at hand.
Resilience is defined as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” But that definition sounds a little negative. Things that test your resilience could be positive, like the birth of a baby or starting a new position. The key is how you respond to these changes and strengthen your ability to bounce back to a space of comfort and growth.
You can incorporate resilience into your organization by:
- Encouraging self-awareness. It’s important for employees to know what level of stress they can manage. We can sometimes find ourselves in a “zone of delusion” that leads to strain and can cause an impact on productivity and satisfaction.
- Seeking training for your employees. Resilience is an acquired skill that will be tested and can be developed. To learn more about training opportunities, ask your health promotion specialist.
EMPLOYEE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (EAP)
According to the Society for Human Resource Management, an employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems (e.g., marital, financial or emotional problems; family issues; substance/alcohol abuse) that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance.
You can incorporate EAP into your organization by:
- Partnering with a vendor that offers EAP services. There are companies dedicated to doing just this. Do some research and find the right vendor for your company.
Stress management is defined as “ways to deal with stress.” Maybe one person’s way to manage stress is by going to the gym, but for someone else it is strict time management.
You can incorporate stress management into your organization by:
- Hosting workshops focused on various stress management methodologies. As mentioned above, people handle stress in different ways. Offer a stress management series where people can learn how to manage stress by managing time, work- appropriate exercises, etc.
- Asking for feedback. Some organizations might not realize that their policies or culture cause undue stress on their employees. For example, maybe you have a strict policy on “no cell phones during meetings.” That policy can cause stress on parents with a sick child at home. If an organization were to receive this feedback, they could consider implementing an exception that would allow the employee to focus, be more productive and be less stressed.
- Foster the fun. Not every day at work will be fun; however, there are ways to support your employees as they de-stress and relax. Consider hosting potlucks, employee recognition ceremonies, department walks, and even community service activities.
Each of these trending terms can be a tool to help you improve your employee’s mental health. By offering a solution that addresses mental health, you are breaking the stigma and letting employees know there are tools and support available.
 http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/state-mental-health-america,  https://www.census.gov/,  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mindfulness,  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/resilience,  https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/whatisaneap.aspx,  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stress%20management