Tip Sheet: Helping your employees address mental health issues

Last updated on July 1st, 2019 at 12:45 pm

As mental health continues to become an ever-important issue in today’s society, companies are faced with the challenge of creating a culture that supports its employees’ mental wellbeing.

According to a study recently conducted in the United Kingdom by global consulting firm Accenture, two-thirds of surveyed workers have experienced or are currently experiencing mental health challenges or have even had suicidal thoughts or feelings.

Barbara Harvey, managing director at Accenture Research, recently discussed the study’s findings, and their implications for the business world, in an article for the Harvard Business Review.

Based on the research, she suggests three ways companies can make more of an effort to show employees they care:

Start the conversation

Senior leaders are responsible for changing the narrative around “opening up” at work, Harvey says. Mixing personal issues with professional life has long been seen as taboo or as a sign of weakness, but leaders can change that notion by talking about their own experiences with mental health and the company’s efforts to support its employees.

Provide training

Companies can provide employees with tools to help raise awareness about mental health, including how to talk about the problem and what to do next. Classroom-based or online training courses, or webinars led by senior leaders, can teach employees how to recognize the warning signs of mental illness in themselves and in others.   

Use online tools

The internet is likely the most accessible method of seeking help for and information about mental health. Larger companies could create peer support tools, such as open forums for employees to post anonymously, Harvey said. Companies of smaller means could curate “a list of the most trusted publicly available sources and provide access to those sources where possible.”

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