Addressing mental health with employees can be challenging, but given the mental health implications of a global health crisis, political divisions, economic uncertainty and home schooling, it’s a factor that experts say employers cannot afford to ignore.
Many companies checked in with their staff in April during the initial COVID-19 surge, but the Harvard Business Review, in its recent piece entitled “Talking about Mental Health with Your Employees – Without Overstepping,” suggests employers should continue providing an environment that embraces mental well-being.
Open the conversation
Those in leadership roles need to put mental health “on the table” by talking about it, inviting others to join the conversation and by providing resources and plans that staff can easily access. Connecting in this way can reduce mental health stigma while “increasing the likelihood that your colleagues feel happier, more confident and more productive,” according to the HBR.
Normalize the discussion
By sharing your own struggles, an employee may be more willing to share his or her mental health challenges, which can boost trust among co-workers. HBR suggests opening the conversation by saying, “‘I know that you and I haven’t typically talked about non-work topics, but for me, work and non-work feel like they’re blurring together these days. How are you doing with that?’”
Be a bridge to resources
Leaders are often adept problem solvers, but the mental health of an employee should not be addressed like a gap in sales or a typical hurdle in a business. Approach colleagues with “the mindset that they are resourceful, able and may need your support but not necessarily solutions,” according to the HBR.
Remain open and honest
Make your intentions known that you are lending an ear, because an employee that feels heard, respected and cared for is an important part of the company’s culture. Listening is easy, but listening well takes work, according to the HBR.