5 Strategies for Supporting Workplace Mental Health
By Terri Dougherty
Work can be tough on our mental health. A heavy workload, looming deadlines, and coworker conflict can all negatively impact well-being.
The workplace can also be a source of support for mental health, however. Work can give our lives purpose and meaning and provide a sense of community, in addition to easing financial stress.
In its 2022 report on Workplace Mental Health and Well-being, the U.S. Surgeon General noted that there are strategies workplaces can use to help individuals and organizations thrive. It featured five essentials for employers to focus on:
• Prioritize workplace physical and psychological safety
- Protection from harm
• Normalize and support mental health
• Make sure diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility are backed up by policies and programs
To do this: Collaborate with workers to identify workplace hazards and issues. Promote workplace safety, inclusion, and mental health.
• Offer quality training, education, and mentoring
- Opportunity for growth
• Foster clear, equitable pathways for career advancement
• Ensure relevant, reciprocal feedback
To do this: Show an interest in worker growth through personal coaching and mentorship.
• Create cultures of inclusion and belonging
- Connection and community
• Cultivate trusted relationships
• Foster collaboration and teamwork
To do this: Listen to workers’ concerns and explain why key decisions are made.
• Provide a living wage
- Mattering at work
• Engage workers in workplace decisions
• Build a culture of gratitude and recognition
• Connect an individual’s work with the organization’s mission
To do this: Encourage supervisors to communicate, show appreciation, and recognize staff members. Use survey information to set competitive wages.
• Provide more autonomy over how work is done
- Work-life harmony
• Make schedules as flexible and predictable as possible
• Increase access to paid leave
• Respect boundaries between work and non-work time
To do this: Offer scheduling options, such as flex time, remote work, or a condensed workweek.
A guide for improvement
The Surgeon General’s mental health framework can be used to guide updates to workplace priorities and practices.
Taking mental health essentials into account when establishing workplace practices may mean looking at the workplace through a different lens, but it can help support worker productivity, creativity, and retention. ♦