A good first step is to develop a strategy to decrease stigma. Stigma and shame are the reason that 80% of employees do not seek appropriate mental health resources. Stigma can result in large delays from the onset of symptoms to an individual seeking the appropriate support and treatment they need. Employees will often suffer in silence rather than risk discrimination or ridicule for seeking help.
Words have power and can play an important role in decreasing the negative stereotypes associated with stigma. An individual living with a mental health condition should not be defined by their condition. Use person-centered language such as “has,” “lives with,” or “experiences.” Ensure that individuals are seen as people first.
Deploy an anti-stigma campaign or develop a communication strategy to educate employees on mental health. Share internal resources such as employee assistance programs (EAP), carrier resources, or vendor partner resources.
With one in five Americans experiencing a mental illness in a given year, it is important for employees living with a mental health challenge to know they are not alone. Additionally, recovery from mental health conditions is possible with the appropriate tools and resources. Educate employees on all of the resources available to them and ensure they know how to access them when needed. To help identify when they or others may be experiencing a mental health challenge, it is also important to teach employees the signs and symptoms of mental health conditions.
Reinforce the importance of self-care and encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day, to eat a healthy meal, stretch, move, or take a short brain break. Promote mental fitness by offering training in resilience, stress management, life skills, mindfulness, and financial well-being.