Over 46% of US adults experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime, and almost 44 million people in the US experience a mental health crisis each year. Of all people in the US experiencing a mental health disorder in a given year, only 41% receive help. Mental health in the workplace is a serious issue. Yet many organizations do not provide mental health training for employees.
Why is mental health training for employees important?
Because mental health disorders are invisible, a person can appear healthy while concealing suffering. Training helps people recognize mental distress in others and in themselves, and hopefully inspires more people to seek help.
Mental health training programs aim to teach employees and managers about common mental health conditions and reduce the stigma surrounding them. People learn to spot the warning signs for cyberbullying, trauma, PTSD, depression/anxiety, and excessive stress in themselves and others.
While all employees can benefit from this training, it is often given to employees in caring roles or those who interact with the public, such as:
- Healthcare workers
- First responders
- Social workers
What topics should mental health training for employees cover?
There are more than 200 mental health disorders, so it’s impossible to cover them all. Focusing on a few topics relevant to the workplace and the people in it is an excellent start. Here are some examples:
- Corporate mental health training is the broadest category and focuses on preventing stress and burnout.
- Suicide intervention and prevention helps employees recognize when other employees or clients are in trouble and gives tools to help them.
- Addiction and substance abuse cost the US over 740 billion dollars per year in costs associated with crime, lost work productivity, and healthcare. People who suffer from addiction need support and resources.
- Anxiety is on the rise in the US and goes hand in hand with chronic stress and burnout.
- Youth mental health includes self-esteem issues, abuse, eating disorders, and other topics.
- First aid training for trauma or crisis is essential for first responders, teachers, and healthcare providers who need to recognize and know how to deal with mental health issues during and after crises or traumatic situations, such as school or workplace shootings.
Mental health in the workplace
Training your employees to recognize mental health issues is an important step in ensuring everyone has the knowledge and help they need. But maintaining mental health is also important and often overlooked.
The World Health Organization defines “self-care” as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” While many people employ self-care in their personal lives, it can be difficult to find ways to practice self-care at work.
Tips for self-care in the workplace
Evolving to a place where we no longer treat self-care as a luxury and instead treat it as a necessary part of the job is an essential step in taking care of employees. Beyond physical health, caring for relationships, emotions, and the mind is an investment that ensures everyone on your team can contribute their best to your company.
Some people resist the idea of implementing self-care strategies in the workplace as there are misconceptions about what it might entail. While yoga classes and sound bath sessions can be helpful for some people, there are simpler ways to achieve moments of peace in the workplace.
Here are some tips to help your employees so they can help you.
1. Encourage walking meetings
Rather than spend more time at desks, take a meeting outside for a walk. Moving your body is a great way to refresh your mind. Plus, the exercise is good for your physical health.
2. Listen to music
Listening to music does wonders for mental health. Elon Musk recently sent an email to all Tesla employees stating he supports them listening to music in his factories. He went on to write they are allowed to have ambient music everyone agrees on or a single earbud for personal music, leaving one ear free to listen for safety-related issues.
If this isn’t an option in your workplace, make music a part of one of your small scheduled breaks
3. Schedule small breaks
It’s tempting to convince yourself to keep working through a project even when you are mentally tired. Taking a short break to walk around the block or sit in your car and listen to your favorite song while you eat your favorite snack can revive your mental focus and actually help you finish the project quicker than if you hadn’t taken a break.
4. Update your environment
Make your workspace a place you want to be. Use photos, plants, children’s art—anything that makes you smile. If your environment brings you joy, you will be comfortable and productive there.
5. Do a puzzle
Whether you enjoy crosswords or Sudoku or a quick couple of games of tic-tac-toe with a coworker, pulling your mind out of work tasks and into a casual game help you relax while exercising your problem-solving skills.
6. Step away from screens
Maybe playing games on your phone during your breaks isn’t actually helping you. Perhaps stepping outside and watching nature for 10 minutes is really what your mind needs.
7. Encourage lunch breaks away from work areas
Everyone has plowed through lunch at a desk without looking away from work from time to time. It’s tempting to try to finish work early, but without a brief break to eat a meal and reclaim mental health, the project could take longer to complete.
8. Stop criticizing yourself
We sometimes undervalue ourselves or criticize our work in fear that it’s not good enough. But this is a bad habit because it can lead to negative feelings about all of your work. Also, keep an eye out and offer encouragement to coworkers who might be criticizing themselves in a similar manner.
9. Celebrate accomplishments
Hit the pause button and acknowledge a job well done—whether by you or a coworker.
Ready to start providing mental health training for employees?
Whatever type of mental health training programs you need, EdgePoint Learning is here to help. If you are ready to start exploring your options for mental health training for employees, we offer a training needs analysis to help you design a training program tailored to your company, employees, and culture.
We can align your needs with the appropriate training approaches and help you find the best way to roll out the new training. Get in touch today to get started.