May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As a result, organizations are in the spotlight as specific attention is being given to employee mental health initiatives. It can be tempting to use this as an opportunity to gain organizational attention for the wrong reasons and miss the chance to instigate real change in the workplace. This month can be a catalyst of opportunities for companies to support employee mental health and make a significant impact on wellbeing even when the spotlight fades.
Find the right partner
One of the most important opportunities for companies to support mental health is to bring in a partner who specializes in this kind of support. For organizations that are in the early stages of adding mental health support benefits, a good partnership is vital. There are plenty of organizations that have dedicated their time, resources, and expertise to building a mental health platform that supports and sustains good mental health. A few of these organizations include, Lyra Health, BetterUp, TalkSpace, Calm, and Learn to Live. Choosing a healthy habits companion like BetterYou might be the right fit if you need a customized solution to help people focus on what matters most to help them improve their wellbeing.
Hire a designated advocate
Another of the opportunities for companies to support mental health is to hire a dedicated mental health advocate if budget allows. While an in-house therapist or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be effective, it may not be necessary. The new hire needs to be a committed advocate for equipping employees with effective and relevant mental health resources as they evolve. Hiring a designated professional alleviates pressure on HR teams that are stretched thin in the current work climate and may not have specialties in mental health support beyond basic mental health accommodations in the workplace. An in-house person will better understand the challenges and impact of mental health issues inside of your specific organization. The better someone knows your team, the more customized support a company can offer for longer-term impact.
Add mental health coverage
Including mental health coverage in health benefits for employees is another of the emerging opportunities for companies to support mental health. Special attention should be given to the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act that requires mental health coverage, including substance use disorders) to match that of coverage for medical conditions. When choosing coverage, make sure there are a number of in-network therapists available in your area, and consider whether or not they offer telehealth counseling and mental health support, especially in more rural areas. Additionally, offer a health savings account to help employees cover additional costs.
The opportunities for companies to support mental health doesn’t end with these initiatives but represent a few that can have long-term impact on employee mental health. As you consider how your company represents itself this month and beyond, give attention to whether your mental health services are sustainable ways to support your team regardless of whether the spotlight is on or off.