Mental health literacy is crucial especially in a workplace setting as it can set the attitude for the team when approaching mental health challenges. Professional environments tend to have multiple stressors for employees which can have mental health effects. Despite the prevalence of mental health challenges, many workplaces do not incorporate mental health literacy which makes access to resources more difficult.
Incorporating such literacy, individuals can identify, understand, and know how to deal with minor to major mental health challenges. Such vital information can help many employees, making it crucial to mandate and actively promote mental health literacy in workspaces.
Defining mental health literacy
Mental health literacy is the knowledge and beliefs of mental health challenges or disorders. The more mental health literacy one has, the easier one can identify potential signs of mental health challenges and access resources needed to address the challenges. This ensures one is well equipped to make healthy mental health choices.
Many employees face mental health challenges. According to a study by Champion Health, about 56% of employees experience symptoms of depression, and 60% experience symptoms of anxiety. Despite the alarming prevalence of mental health challenges, only 10% of employees are actively seeking mental health support.
These numbers are evidence of the need for mental health literacy in the work environment. Such literacy will improve the accessibility of resources and promote a supportive work environment.
Building mental health literacy
One must be careful when introducing the topic of mental health literacy into the workplace. There are strategies to adhere to when easing your team into such sensitive topics. The strategies below can be implemented in the form of regular training sessions or workshops. Let us discuss some of these strategies:
- Recognizing Signs: One should train employees to recognize signs of mental health issues. This will help them identify such signs at their early stages. By doing so, they can reach out to other employees who may require help and tackle the challenge before it intervenes with their colleague's daily lives.
- Debunking Myths: Representation of mental health struggles in mainstream media tends to be ridden with harmful stereotypes. Hence, when educating about these struggles it is important to debunk harmful myths and stereotypes. Showing them real cases of patients can help them understand the disorders better.
- Seeking Help & Support: Once your team has been exposed to the above material, they should learn how to approach and offer help to those in need. They must be patient and sensitive when talking to them, and ensure they feel safe to open up. According to the situation, they should know which resources to direct and suggest to their colleagues and peers for interventions when required.
Mental health apps like Manahverse can help your employees track their mental wellbeing trajectories. It has multiple resources right at their fingertips to access whenever required. The app has features such as journaling, helplines, nudges, and access to experts for sessions.
- Open Discussions: People in leadership roles must set the tone and attitude towards mental health in the office. Encouraging open and sensitive discussions is the first step to implementing a safe space in the work environment. Employees should feel comfortable openly talking about their struggles.
Awareness campaigns for mental health
Awareness campaigns are a crucial component of promoting and incorporating mental health literacy. It reiterates and reminds employees of the workplace literacy they have received. Campaigns are effective in initiating conversations and discuss freely about mental health. Here are some ways to develop a successful awareness campaign in the workplace:
- Curate Engaging Material: Ensure to tailor engaging material for the awareness campaigns. Having a new conversation starter in the campaign every two weeks can jump-start the conversation needed. Displaying shocking statistics can also engage employees with the campaign.
- Use Simple Language: Nobody likes jargon when being introduced to a new topic. It discourages engagement and confuses readers. Avoid jargon and big words in the campaigns. Ensure to have simple language so the average person can understand the message of the campaign.
- Utilize Communication Channels: Do not rely on a single mode of communication for the mental health awareness campaign. Curate posters, newsletters, or blog posts to spread information through diverse channels. Holding mandatory seminars or sessions to discuss diverse symptoms of mental health disorders can be extremely effective as well.
- List Resources: Oftentimes it can be difficult to ask peers and colleagues for guidance and help. However, listing out resources in the campaign for people struggling with mental health can increase accessibility. It is important to have helpline numbers and other materials available around the workplace and in daily newsletters.
Benefits of mental health literacy
Mental health literacy has several short-term and long-term benefits. Let us take a look at how firms can benefit from incorporating mental health literacy in the work environment:
- Improved Mental Wellbeing: Facilitating open discussions of mental health will foster trust and a safe space in the workplace. Employees will be more ready to access resources and reach out to colleagues for help.
- Early Interventions: As employees grow more fluent in mental health literacy, they will be able to identify signs of mental health struggle earlier. This will provide an opportunity to address the issue at early stages and deliver the assistance employees may require. This will prevent the situation from growing more dire and urgent, perhaps even preventing mental health struggles from intervening in employee’s daily life activities.
- Increased Motivation & Productivity: Mental health wellbeing is a crucial variable in determining motivation and productivity at work. The higher the degree of mental health wellbeing, the higher their motivation to deliver quality work.
The ACTS program offered by Manah wellness is tailored to cater to your employee's mental health needs. This program assesses mental health problems with experts in the field, shares material like content pieces and tools to tackle challenges, and works on developing skills that aid in overall mental wellbeing.
Mental health literacy is crucial to incorporate in the workplace. This is a step towards ensuring your team makes wise choices when it comes to mental health. Literacy on the matter will inform them of the various forms in which mental health challenges manifest and the best resources to access as an intervention. Those who possess leadership positions should actively encourage open discussions throughout this time as many employees may have crucial questions or concerns to address.