This week marks Canada’s annual Mental Health Week. The Canadian Mental Health Association encourages Canadian’s to “Get Loud” for mental health, in an effort to raise awareness about mental health issues.
You’re likely already aware that employers have a legislative requirement to protect the mental and physical health of employees. But compliance is only one piece of the puzzle, and most workplaces aren’t doing enough to support employees’ mental wellness.
It’s easy to be unsure about where to start, but supporting mental health at work doesn’t need to be complicated, expensive, or involve elaborate meditation rooms and massage chairs (although if that’s what works for your organization, then go for it!)—simple efforts to support mental health at work can have a big impact.
Here are 15 of our favourite easy-to-implement strategies:
1. Get management on board: Get managers and supervisors at all levels of your organization on board with the commitment to create a psychologically healthy work environment.
2. Manage stress: Host a stress-reduction workshop, or offer free passes to a local yoga studio.
3. Lighten up: Maximize exposure to natural daylight by creating opportunities to get outside, keeping blinds open, or bringing in full spectrum lamps.
4. Fuel for health: Provide healthy “brain-food” snacks to keep energy levels and moods from crashing.
5. Be pro puppy: Allowing pets in the workplace has been shown to reduce absenteeism and stress-related illness.
6. Encourage peace: Nip issues in the bud, and address workplace conflict and disagreements as soon as they arise.
7. Laugh: Share cartoons, jokes, or funny anecdotes in your newsletter, and start each team meeting with a social check-in.
8. Teach balance: Model a healthy work-life balance for your employees, and show them what self-care looks like.
9. Show appreciation: Get to know each team member’s primary language of appreciation to be sure your “Thank Yous” are hitting the mark.
10. Build confidence: Know their goals, and provide ongoing opportunities for professional development. Take action on an employee’s idea, and give them credit.
11. Let them unplug: Remove the expectation that employees will respond to work emails or calls when they’re not at work.
12. Support purpose: Support employees in volunteering for causes they’re passionate about.
13. Energize through movement: Organize a lunch-time walking/jogging group, and take turns choosing your route.
14. Practice mindfulness: Hire a meditation coach to facilitate a lunch and learn, and incorporate mindful strategies throughout your day.
15. Be an advocate: “Get Loud” by creating a dialogue in your workplace to help stop the discrimination and stigma that often go hand in hand with mental illness.
Your Engaged HR Assignment: Collect information about the mental health resources available in your community, and keep copies easily accessible so if an employee comes to you for help, you’re prepared. To get started, and for more strategies to improve psychological health and safety in your workplace, take a look at the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website.