The heightened awareness of mental health during the pandemic helped to normalize more discussion of it in the workplace. As a result, employers are prioritizing and enhancing employee well-being benefits. As the world becomes more diverse and mental health needs grow rapidly, the need for cultural competence in mental health services has never been more pressing.
A diverse workforce gives a company a competitive advantage, especially when trading internationally. Employees with different cultural backgrounds make it easier to communicate globally and increase a company’s understanding of different cultures and environments.
Organizations can promote health equity through culturally responsive care. It describes an approach that values and respects people’s backgrounds, experiences, and aspects of identity, all of which influence the impact of an event on a person. Culturally responsive care recognizes barriers that prevent marginalized or stigmatized groups from receiving support. With that in mind, care is delivered with cross-cultural interpersonal communication.
People from every culture can develop mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, but the experiences they may face because of their cultural backgrounds—for example, race-based discrimination—can influence the severity and impact of their symptoms, how they respond to different therapies, and whether they choose to seek treatment at all.
Culture comes in many forms. The people you work with can vary greatly in terms of background, beliefs, and behavior. Familiarity with your employees' cultures can guide you on how to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Cultures depend on race, religion, age, sexual orientation, education, gender, language and ethnicity, neurodiversity and disability.
As people with more culturally diverse backgrounds seek mental health care through their organizations, it is essential for companies to offer access to an equally diverse network of providers with culturally responsive clinical skills. A professional service like Manah Wellness provides a diverse range of options that can help your employees based on their cultural backgrounds. As a company providing mental health benefits program, the important questions to ask include:
- Are your counsellors/coaches trained to address race and other social identities in therapy sessions?
- Are your counsellors/coaches diverse in their linguistic capabilities, so they don’t have to rely on translators to care for multilingual clients?
- Has your network trained counsellors/coaches to incorporate cultural adaptations that best fit your clients?
Organizations can address mental health in a multi cultured environment by:
- Providing training and ongoing consultations to strengthen their culturally responsive clinical skills (for example, helping providers integrate clients’ coping styles into treatment)
- Providing specialized, ongoing training to address race and other social identities in therapy
- Providing support to help providers understand how to make cultural adaptations so therapy is tailored to each individual’s needs
- Taking steps to combat stigma so those with the most barriers to care can feel comfortable asking for support
- Training on being an anti-oppressive therapist working with LGBTQIA+ individuals and people of color
- Training in the social justice implications for evidence-based treatments
- Training in understanding white privilege and allyship in therapy
- Conduct employee surveys: Gather data on employee experiences and perceptions of diversity, inclusion, and mental health. Use these insights to identify areas for improvement and track progress over time.
- Celebrate cultural diversity and promote mental health: Organize events and activities that highlight and celebrate the diverse cultures represented within the organization while promoting mental health awareness and well-being. This helps to create a sense of belonging, reduces isolation, and supports the mental health of all employees.
- Business and project managers can set up informal gatherings after work where both local and culturally diverse employees can learn about different traditions. It’s an ideal way to learn and understand about new cultural practices, values, ethics and rules.
What are the benefits of integrating culture in mental health care in the workforce?
Culturally responsive care matters in a work environment because it fosters psychological safety, an important factor in increasing collaboration and productivity, which are crucial to a successful business. The priority of mental health in the workplace needs to be truly accessible to a diverse workforce.
Fostering a supported and welcoming workforce is essential to creating a powerful employee-first culture. Culturally responsive care is a recognition of the diversity in the global workforce, filled with employees who have a broad range of experiences and demographic profiles. Making mental health benefits accessible to all helps to create a workplace where all employees are valued for their unique perspectives, respected as equal and integral, and given fair access to opportunity.
By implementing the strategies outlined above, companies can effectively support the development of minorities and promote mental well-being for all employees. Embracing cultural diversity and prioritizing mental health drives organizational growth and innovation and fosters a thriving workforce better equipped to face the challenges of an ever-evolving global landscape. By taking proactive steps towards an inclusive and supportive workplace, companies can reap the benefits of a diverse, engaged, and mentally healthy team, ultimately driving sustainable success.