Offering employees wellness programs to stay physically healthy is a trend that’s taken off in recent years. But while it’s a good start, encouraging everyone in your office stay fit and eat well is just one piece of keeping them healthy. The other huge component: Helping them stay mentally healthy and avoid burnout. Think it isn’t that big of a deal? Thirty one percent of employees cite mental illness as the number one cause of decreased productivity and increased days off of work.
While this is important for all employees, it’s especially crucial for minorities, since they are less likely to get help on their own. A huge study came out last year showing that minorities don’t receive the same amount or quality of mental health treatment as whites. An easy way to narrow that gap is to provide relief at work.
To help you start thinking about different ways to help your employees, here are some mental health programs that may be welcomed in your office:
- Mental health benefit walk-through: Providing mental health benefits, and going over what they are at initial orientations as well as sending out reminders to your team, are major steps in the right direction. These benefits can include sufficient vacation and personal days (and the genuine encouragement to use them) as well as medical coverage for behavioral health treatments.
- Workplace yoga or meditation: Offering a few classes throughout the month can help bring employees’ breathing and peace of mind to the forefront. Studies show that yoga’s unique breathing techniques and slow movements are also good coping mechanisms to deal with stress throughout the day.
- Regular team lunches and outings: One of the top reasons employees cite for happiness and satisfaction at work is having a positive relationship with co-workers. Being able to enjoy a lunch out with your team can strengthen bonds between co-workers and make the office a more positive place.
- Monthly workspace cleanout: A clean, functional and well-lit space can eliminate a lot of stress. Designate an hour or two at the end of the month for all employees to filter through paperwork and clean up their space.
- Peer support groups: People are more likely to open up about their worries and complaints in small groups. Offering a weekly “safe place” meeting (free of management or supervisors) for relief and support can improve employee satisfaction.
Learn even more about helping employees stay mentally healthy on the job by checking out these blogs from this site as well as A Healthier Michigan:
- The Importance of Mental Health Programs in the Workplace
- Breaking Down the Barriers to Accessing Mental Health Services in Manistee and Benzie Counties
- The Importance of a Healthy Corporate Culture
About the author: John J. Dunn is vice president of Middle and Small Group Business for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. He’s responsible for the sales and earnings performance of middle and small group business, which generates approximately $4 billion in annual premiums. He’s also involved in key projects related to achieving the company’s core business strategies, including strategic planning, national health care reform, product development and pricing. Dunn has been with Blue Cross for 25 years. He’s a fellow of the Society of Actuaries, a member of both the American Academy of Actuaries and the Michigan Actuarial Society, and serves as immediate past chair and treasurer of the board for the Children’s Center of Wayne County. Dunn holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Michigan State University.
Photo credit: Nick Webb