6 Supportive Mental Health Strategies to Offer Struggling Employees

May 13, 2020 | 1,193 views

6 Supportive Mental Health Strategies to Offer Struggling Employees
6 Supportive Mental Health Strategies to Offer Struggling Employees

Mental health issues have increased in recent months. This should not be surprising as we negotiate unprecedented change. For your employees, the impact can take its toll in many forms: anxiety, depression, feelings of loneliness, sleep loss, domestic violence, and fear. Our current environment is affecting us all. For the first time in most lives, there are no tried-and-true answers to questions about future employment, education, economic recovery, and medical responses.

For employers, this is the time to provide reinforcement and support for employees. It is the time to commit to employee health and well-being. And it is the time to openly communicate about available options to assist struggling employees.

  1. Check-in before they check out. By now, most organizations have instituted some sort of virtual meeting to keep communication open. As part of this, take the pulse of each person to see how each one is doing. Normally, in an office environment, we will share personal triumphs and concerns. From a toddler’s first step to learning that a spouse was laid off, provide the opportunity for employee concerns to surface.
  2. Eliminate online frustrations. Working remotely can be a technological nightmare for some. While some of us have lost count of our virtual meetings, others are doing this for the first time. The learning curve is steep, so do what you can to provide training, good equipment and IT support to smooth the path for productivity.
  3. Use those encouraging videos. Inspiration from other leaders goes a long way. Share stories of other leaders and companies that provide encouragement. Some can be funny too. Levity is welcome in times of stress, and laughter is good medicine. Using others’ creative work can be effective and free.
  4. Don’t put lipstick on the pig. Mental health should not be disguised or ignored. Talking about employee stressors and their impact is important. Talk up the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) if you have them. Encourage virtual talk therapy as needed. Suicide rates rise and fall with the economy, so don’t dress up a stressful situation to make it look better. Positive encouragement is good, but be open to seeing things as they really are.
  5. Encourage self-care. This might mean utilizing an EAP benefit or encouraging healthy activities like yoga, meditation, and exercise. Have a talk therapist as a guest speaker for a virtual meeting. Provide links to healthy cooking pages. Or go ahead and have a departmental happy hour one afternoon like real colleagues.
  6. Have a heart. As your curated videos will show, good leadership also includes some empathy for employees’ situations. Show you care with consistent communication that regularly acknowledges how hard this is while demonstrating how much you value each of them. No one knows exactly how work life will look in a month or a year and that can be daunting.

We all vent a bit, groan when the wifi is slower, and want to stop the 24/7 access of children and work. This time of uncertainty will pass eventually, but we must be present and able to negotiate its ever-changing demands with clear heads in an empathetic work environment. Encourage employees to focus on their mental health needs, address the concerns openly, and respond proactively. The reward will be healthy and productive staff–strong and able to recover from this unique and mentally stressful working environment.

Author Profile Jon Forknell is the Vice President and General Manager of Atlas Business Solutions, Inc., a software marketing company specializing in employee scheduling software, including ScheduleBase employee scheduling software, and other business software solutions. In the past, Jon has been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration as a SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Atlas Business Solutions was named as one of Software Magazine’s Top 500 Software Companies in 2004 through 2007, and 2010, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

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