May is Mental Health Awareness Month or Mental Health Month in the United States. It’s a time to talk about the importance of mental wellbeing and reduce the stigma around mental illness. That’s a wonderful cause—but what does it have to do with your company?
As you know, if we want to retain our employees and increase their satisfaction at work, we have to look at them as people. They’re not robots who clock in and clock out; they’re individuals who are trying to make a living while balancing things like family, personal obligations, and often times even their mental health.
Keep reading to learn more about ways your company can support them during the month of May and beyond.
First, why should your company observe or participate in Mental Health Awareness Month?
There are so many different awareness campaigns and important causes. Why should your company observe this one?
Here are just a few reasons:
- It shows your people that you care about them beyond the skills they have and the work they do.
- It promotes your company’s commitment to making a positive impact and can encourage employee generosity.
- It facilitates connections that help your team members build deeper relationships with the people around them.
- It reduces the stigma around mental health that keeps people from seeking help when they need it.
We actually think of this as an exciting opportunity to see what impact observing or participating in this awareness month has on employees and their overall wellbeing.
8 ways your company can support your employees during Mental Health Awareness Month
Ready to support your employees and positively impact their mental health? Here are a few ways you can do just that.
- Ask Them
Not sure how to support your employees and their mental wellbeing? Just ask them. As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, send your employees a short, anonymous survey and see what they think would make the biggest positive impact and share the results.
- Share resources and facilitate opportunities for growth.
Internally, think about what trainings you can offer managers and what policies you can set to promote mental wellbeing. You should also look at your budget and set aside funds to support your new initiatives.
Externally, form new relationships with consultants or organizations that can educate your employees and provide them with helpful resources.
- Give employees paid time off to volunteer.
There’s so much value in volunteering. Your employees will feel more connected to their communities and the communities they’re serving. They’ll feel like they’re having a positive impact on the world and finding more purpose in their lives. They’ll get to use their skills to support a good cause or learn new skills that interest them.
You should also make it as easy as possible for your employees to volunteer. Offer them paid time off to volunteer and share volunteer opportunities with them.
- Give employees funds to donate to the causes that are important to them.
Evaluate your current workplace giving or corporate social responsibility efforts. Do you offer your employees funds that they can use to make a donation to their favorite nonprofit? Do you offer to match employee donations? If not, can you work that into your budget?
Not only will this show your employees that you care about what they care about, but it will also increase the positive impact your company has on the world.
Look into tools like Uncommon Giving’s workplace giving and volunteering platform that remove the administrative burden that might be keeping your company from having the biggest impact possible.
- Offer employees a mental wellness stipend.
Each year, offer your employees a mental wellness stipend—and let them choose how to spend it. No two employees are the same; one might want to buy a yoga mat or gym membership while another might want to subscribe to an app that offers meditation services. Give them the agency to do what’s right for them.
- Reinforce boundaries that promote work-life balance.
Lots of companies talk about work-life balance, but few take that a step further and reinforce boundaries that actually promote it. At the very least, make sure that your employees know that work stays at work and lead by example. Absolutely need to reach out to an employee after the workday is over? Try to be clear about when you actually need a response.
- Look at what mental health benefits you can offer through your company’s health insurance plan.
Does your health insurance plan include mental health benefits? If not, start looking for plans that do. If your plan does offer those benefits, let your employees know how they can access them.
- Communicate that you will work on improving your employees’ mental health all year round.
At the end of the month, survey your employees again and see which efforts they most appreciated or that had the biggest impact on their mental wellbeing. Once you gather the results and make a plan, share concrete steps your company will take throughout the year to continue the efforts you started on May 1.
Supporting your employees and their mental wellbeing should be a year-round priority, and Mental Health Awareness Month is an especially great time to check in with them. Look into the suggestions above and invest in tools that will help you take advantage of the opportunities in front of you.