Employers of all types have had a similar realization during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic: there is a lack of mental health resources for their employees. This holds true for both their remote workforce and for those employees who continue to work onsite. Data shows us that, in a normal year, 1 in 5 adults experience a diagnosable mental health illness. Respecting and treating mental health issues on par with traditional medical illnesses enhances quality of life for your employees.
Over the past six months, individuals have been largely socially isolated due to the pandemic. Knowing that social isolation can create or accelerate mental health issues, it can be to an employer’s benefit to make sure employees are aware of the resources available to them. This can not only be helpful for the employee to work through any potential issues, but also can demonstrate your position as an employer who cares about the well-being of your team. Providing employees with mental health resources is a good way to proactively managing issues while enhancing the culture of your organization, particularly if a majority of your workforce is working outside of the office environment.
As your organization considers this issue, here is an overview of steps you can take to get started:
- Take an inventory: Identify all of the resources that could help your remote workforce manage their mental health. Resources can range from an employee assistance plan (EAP), telemedicine or even tele-psychiatry.
- Share those resources: Leverage your normal communication channels to share information about the resources you have available to your employees. Keep in mind, most vendors have resources to help you communicate their programs.
- Develop a culture of support: Organizational culture is the cornerstone to supporting wellness. Consider training your managers about your resources, encouraging employees to share success stories, and finding unique ways to support your remote population during this unusual time.
Seasonal Considerations for Mental Health
In addition to the challenges posed by isolation related to the pandemic, there is a historical trend that shows us that we will likely experience an increase in mental health claims over the winter months. Regardless of a person’s lifestyle, winter in Wisconsin can be difficult and cause an increase in anxiety and seasonal depression. Proactively sharing your resources could make a big difference to employees who work in the office and at home.
Now is a great time to showcase your support for employees; both onsite and remote. Here are two great resources to help you get started: the Mental Health of Americas Toolkit, as well as The Working Well Toolkit: Leading a Mentally Healthy Business.
Please reach out to your M3 Account Team if you feel like you need additional information or guidance on this topic.