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World Mental Health Day Is Coming:
10 Things Employers Can Do to Show Support

World Mental Health Day takes place each year on October 10th to raise awareness of and support mental health initiatives across the globe. This year’s event is geared toward increasing investment in mental health programs. Research shows that employees expect their workplace to support their mental health. We also know that organizations that do see improved job performance, engagement, and reduced healthcare costs for both the employee and the employer. Here are ten simple ways your organization can show support for mental wellness leading up to World Mental Health Day.

1. Designate a self-care day.

Encourage employees to engage in acts of self-care and post a selfie on workplace social media. Acts of self-care don’t have to be big to make an impact—think a special cup of tea, a 5-minute stretch break, 10 minutes to sit on a park bench and do nothing. The point is to destigmatize the idea that self-care is indulgent.

2. Enlist a senior leader in a mental health share.

Studies have shown that when senior leaders open up about mental illness, it has a big impact on reducing the stigma of mental health in the workplace. This could be a video, intranet article, social media post—anything to show that it’s normal to experience mental health concerns.

3. Compile a mental health benefits one-pager.

It’s frustrating to have to search for resources when you need help with mental health. Make it easy for employees and create a one-page list of all your mental health resources. Post it in a prominent location such as an intranet homepage, chat, or workplace social media.

4. Incorporate a mental health meeting minute.

During the week leading up to October 10th, ask managers to spend a minute or two talking about a mental health concern before beginning a weekly team meeting. Give managers a list of suggested topics and talking points about common mental health conditions like anxiety and depression.

5. Hold a mindfulness and meditation day.

Encourage employees to download a meditation or mindfulness app and give it a try for a week. Or, schedule an expert to offer virtual meditation and mindfulness sessions so employees can learn to use these tools on their own.

6. Host an “everything you wanted to know about the EAP” event.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is one of the most underutilized benefits offered by employers. Ask the EAP vendor to create a short webinar on what the EAP provides. Have HR create a Slack channel dedicated to answering questions about the EAP, or highlight the offerings in a virtual town hall or benefits fair.

7. Read and share an article on mental health.

Raise awareness of mental health issues by asking employees to post a link to an article that resonated with them. So many celebrities and athletes are opening up about mental health these days. The more we share these stories, the more we normalize conversations about mental health.

8. Hold a company-sponsored “mental health retreat.”

Allow employees to take the afternoon off on a Friday for a mental health break. Kick off the break with a group yoga or mindfulness session.

9. Schedule a pet meet-and-greet.

Studies show that interacting with pets can decrease the production of the stress hormone cortisol, while increasing levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin. Whether virtual or in-person, set aside a 15-minute block of time for employees to show off their pets.

10. Sponsor a “What I Saw on My Walk” photo contest.

Spending time outside to breathe fresh air and feel the sun is a known mood-booster. Make it fun by asking employees to post something they saw on their daily walk and offer prizes for the best photos.

How I support my team’s mental health.

Mental health is a topic that’s very close to my heart. In my leadership role at WebMD Health Services, I’ve put plenty of thought behind creating a safe, supportive workplace for my team. For example, I try to ensure that my team knows that it’s okay to not be okay, and that they can share openly with me when they need a break. Acknowledging mental health struggles has become even more important as we all get used to this new normal.

To support my own mental health, I’ve found it helpful to separate work and home life. And I try to model these boundaries and behaviors with my team as well. For example, we don’t send emails after 6:00 p.m., and we don’t feel pressured to stay online when we need to care for our kids throughout the day. Being fully empathetic, supportive and accepting at work has definitely reduced some of the stress we’re facing during these times.

We hope you found some inspiration in these simple ways to raise awareness of mental health in the workplace. In addition to sponsoring events like these, many companies are formalizing and prioritizing access to high-quality mental health solutions as they strategize their future benefits offerings.

If you would like help creating a mental health approach for your organization, visit webmdhealthservices.com.

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