The mental health and wellbeing of our nation’s workforce has taken center stage since the pandemic began, adding new stressors and amplifying existing ones.
Emily Wolfe, MSW, LCSW
Director of Learning Experience, HERO
Employers are eager to understand the role of evolving work models, workplace culture, policies, and practices in support of their employees’ mental health. The increased awareness and desire to address these urgent needs have led to the development of many new mental health solutions for employers and the workplace. But even with myriad resources, guidance, and partner solutions available, many employers are still asking, “Where do we begin?”
At Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), we continue to advance our understanding of the evolving workforce mental health landscape, sharing evidence-based best practices and facilitating discussions to support businesses, employees, and communities as we address this challenge.
Serving as a convener of thought leaders and spotlighting employers’ mental health strategies through video interviews are but two ways in which we serve as part of a larger global effort to improve the mental health and wellbeing of America’s workforce.
The HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© further supports employers in understanding and implementing practices that support workforce mental health.
Making an impact
HERO has identified employer best practices and some key areas where organizations can take action and have meaningful impact:
Raise awareness. Reduce stigma and normalize mental health and wellbeing. Facilitate conversations among employees at all levels, from frontline workers to managers and senior leaders. Train managers and workplace mental health champions to identify and respond to mental health concerns appropriately.
Reduce psychosocial risks related to work, environment, and culture. Invite employee involvement and increase autonomy. Provide opportunities for employees to advance knowledge and skills through job training and development. Enhance employee recognition programs. Examine existing policies to ensure they are inclusive, diverse, and equitable (e.g., caregiver and family leave policies that include same gender couples). Maintain a healthy and psychologically safe work environment.
Assess needs and measure impact. Ask employees what they need through surveys and focus groups, and then respond in a meaningful way. Engage in ongoing review and evaluation of initiatives. Develop communication strategies that reach all populations (e.g., increase accessibility).
Provide and promote access to evidence-based, affordable, quality mental healthcare. Include quality mental healthcare as part of your benefits plan. Evaluate your mental health benefits for specific mental health and substance use conditions. Consider reduced co-pay costs. Evaluate your employee assistance program provider for diverse representation among clinicians (e.g., LGBTQIA+ informed care, race, ethnicity, languages) and delivery methods (e.g., on-site, tele-behavioral health).
Integrate mental health into a comprehensive wellbeing strategy. Strengthen the connection between mental and physical health by integrating mental health support strategies into wellness initiatives (e.g., mental wellbeing days, flextime, access to fresh air and natural light). Require warm handoffs between EAP and wellness providers. Host vendor partner summits to facilitate relationships between them. Support social wellness through employee resource groups and peer-to-peer support.
Partner with local and national organizations to inform, extend, and share guidance. Leverage resources available through public health departments, parks and recreational agencies, and community centers. Connect employees with vetted and quality-assured online resources from trusted mental health and wellbeing organizations.