Mental health issues are often overlooked by coworkers or swept under the rug by employers. That means many workers are battling these issues alone. One of the most memorable stories I heard during my years in worksite wellness starts with a training class. The instructor was training their employees on a new computer system for a week. She noticed one employee kept to herself, seemed withdrawn and would always be late coming back from lunches and breaks. Normally your first reaction would be to reprimand the employee, but this instructor went above and beyond. She found the employee in the restroom crying and when she approached her and offered to help, the employee said she was fine. After spending a little time with her it was revealed that she was having some family trouble. The stress of the crisis affected her and her work. They found a counselor for her through their EAP and this helped her work through this stress before it became a bigger issue.
The main concept for this National Mental Health Awareness month is AWARENESS.
Remove the stigma that mental health issues are individual problems. Train your managers on symptoms that may show signs of issues such as stress, anxiety, or depression and let them know what to do if the a situation arises. Some symptoms that could lead to an underlying problem are noticing changes in an employees’ mood (such as irritability or loss of interest), having difficulty concentrating or making decisions, is losing or gaining weight rapidly, or has a decreasing energy level. Just offering support or letting your entire organization know where they can find resources could be beneficial. Your EAP is a great resource, as well as several non-profit organizations and counselors.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a social media toolkit that you can share each week during May. They also have local chapters offering support groups and classes. Mental Health America is a non-profit organization that has programs, screenings, workplace wellness information and more. Their programs range from Workplace Bullying & Violence to The Five Myths of Mental Illness. Please find what resource works best for your population and bring awareness to the forefront.
Together we can help your employees at the times they need it the most. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember awareness can make a difference.