How Leaders Can Create a Mental Health Strategy

Mental Health America recently published its 2022 Mind the Workplace report detailing the findings of its Work Health Survey of 11,300 employees in 17 industries. The survey showed that 80% of workers find that stress from work affects their relationships with friends, family and co-workers, and 70% of employees find it difficult to concentrate at work. This shocking statistic has huge implications in regard to productivity and employee retention, which shows an increased need for a proactive mental health strategy in every workplace.    

4 Ways Leaders Can Improve Their Workplace Mental Health Strategy

Today, leaders must make mental health at work a top priority to remain competitive and attract top talent because it is simply the right thing to do. A 2021 Wellbeing Diagnostic Survey found that 86% of employers stated that mental health, stress and burnout were still priorities. However, 49% have not formally articulated a strategy to support mental health for their workforce! 

Here are some simple steps managers can take to implement a mental health strategy at work:

  1. Create a written strategy to establish employee mental health and well-being as a top organizational priority. Determine the personnel, budget and other resources needed to fulfill that strategy, and include deadlines and goals to track the success of this strategy.
  2. Invest in developing emotionally intelligent managers. Emotional intelligence is a set of skills that improves a manager’s ability to perceive, manage and regulate emotions. A great leadership development program will also include important people skills like conflict management, unconscious bias, effective communication and managing different personality styles. Leaders that develop these important skills are better positioned to support mental health at work for their teams. 
  3. Encourage PTO usage as an expectation of employment. Leaders should emphasize the availability of paid time off, mental health days, and regular holidays. The 2022 Mind the Workplace report found that 58% of employees feel discouraged from using PTO. The pandemic and remote work have exacerbated this problem, with more employees working while sick, taking fewer breaks during the day, and trying to be available to colleagues at all hours. Managers must actively encourage the use of PTO. Leaders can suggest taking 3 days weekends, working half days, or helping employees identify good times of the year to take off several days at a time.  
  4. Support overall health and wellness in the workplace. Leaders can offer benefits like a weekly meditation or yoga class at the office, discounts to gyms and yoga studios, or access to mental health apps for stress reduction. 

These are just a few ways leaders can begin to create an effective mental health strategy for their teams. The most important thing is to take action now to develop and implement a mental health strategy to support employees. Doing so can dramatically improve employees’ lives, as well as their overall productivity and success in the workplace.