The COVID-19 pandemic provided many workers with a slew of new risk factors for poor mental health almost overnight. Employees are battling mental health difficulties after more than a year of getting used to the four walls of their houses, limiting their social connections to the screens of their phones and laptops, and spending more time with themselves.
According to a survey of global employees, nearly 42% of those polled had mental health difficulties. Around the world, there has been an 11 percent increase in mentally ill people as of June 2020.
People working during the pandemic face unique threats to mental health and well being including:
- Heightened levels of uncertainty and dread,
- An overabundance of information,
- Changes to workplace dynamics,
- Changes in family relationships, and
- Concerns about financial security.
Surveys conducted during the pandemic also find that employees have been experiencing workplace burnout and suffering from adverse mental health outcomes.
Mental Health awareness at the workplace
It’s the responsibility of organizational leaders to help and guide teams. Here’s how leaders can play an active role in supporting the workforce through mental health challenges.
Be more open to your employees
Due to the pandemic, everyone is facing problems. The only silver lining to it is that everyone can express what they’ve been through and find more people to share or relate with.
As a leader, it is important to foster meaningful conversation among team members. Sharing your experiences would cultivate trust, help employees build a sense of camaraderie, and improve employee performance as well.
Practice what you preach
Showing what you stand for gives comfort to your team so they can prioritize self-care when required. If you vouch for wellness hours but tend to frequently call your team regarding work during wellness hours, you’re not really helping. Most times, team leaders are so busy getting work done and following up on the progress of the team’s work, they tend to not prioritize their own self-care. Take a break midday for some music or to go out for a walk. Lead by example.
Change is the only constant. Expect changes in terms of needs or situations. Having regular check-ins with your team will help you better understand their work and situation. Don’t assume what your team needs. Be empathetic and ready to devise custom approaches to supporting an employee’s mental health needs. Be as kind and realistic as possible.
Show that you really care
With everyone working from home, it is almost impossible to tell if someone is struggling. Ask better questions than the customary “Are you okay?” or “How are you?” Ask them if they need support or if they want to talk about it. It’s okay if they aren’t comfortable sharing details or any information. They know they have someone to talk to if needed, which reassures them.
Run specific campaigns around mental health awareness. Like Twitter’s #LetsTalk hashtag, offices can have something like a #NoWorkOnlyTalk time. Do it once a week or once a month – invite speakers, run workshops, hold an experience-sharing session – and engage your employees in conversations that matter. In the hybrid model of working, ensure that the campaigns are inclusive of both your remote and in-office employees.
Feedback sessions can happen via meetings or suggestion boxes or even simple surveys.
This gives employees the opportunity to voice their concerns and feel comforted by the fact that they have somebody to share their concerns with. However, you must make sure that the feedback is acknowledged and acted on.
Empower your employees
Your employees can benefit a lot from mental health awareness programs. Even better, your employees can also support people who are going through the throes of a mental crisis. As you empower conversations around mental health, empower your employees to become torchbearers of mental health as well. This also drives a positive reputation for your brand.
Be vocal about your support for mental health through virtual volunteering
Volunteering virtually to support the cause of mental health awareness has multi-faceted benefits. Yes, your employees get to ‘feel good’ by using their experience to ‘do good.’ But more than that, volunteering helps your employees feel more connected to your community, grow their network, and even improve their health.
According to the Harvard Medical School, volunteering regularly can boost mental wellbeing, build critical thinking skills, and lower chances of developing high blood pressure. To give you a sense of what virtual volunteering for corporates looks like, here are 5 opportunities that we are executing for our corporate clients as they strive to become mental health champions:
- Yoga for a cause
Participate in a virtual yoga session to support yoga teachers who strive to bring the healing power of yoga to more people. This ‘yoga for a cause’ program helps the people who are facing addiction, trauma, eating disorders, cancer, incarceration, and PTSD learn yoga and calm their minds.
- Create content to raise awareness about mental health
Volunteer to create digital content that addresses key mental health issues and raises awareness about it. The nonprofit will use this to drive awareness among its beneficiaries. The best part is you don’t need any prior preparation. Employees just need to participate, ideate, and create.
- Lend an ear to an individual struggling with mental wellbeing
Volunteer to listen to people going through mental health struggles through message services. Employees get to book a time slot of their choice and lend their ears to assuage the fears and concerns of people in dire need of mental support from across the world.
- Help chronically ill children and their families live with dignity
Volunteer to record motivational video messages and show your emotional support to children with chronic illnesses. Volunteers can encourage children and their families to be strong through this journey and give them the courage, support, and love they deserve.
This Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s join hands and be there for each other and respect everyone no matter what they are going through.
If you are interested in any of the virtual volunteering opportunities listed above and would like to enable your employees to be change drivers, talk to us here.
Power good with Goodera today.