Part of our You Belong in Business podcast
Supporting mental health and well-being in the workplace
Pandemic stress and isolation have been hard on people’s mental well-being, as 40% of U.S. adults struggle with mental health or substance abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One silver lining, says Dr. Steve Pratt, senior medical director for Magellan Healthcare, is an increased discussion and recognition of mental health—including mental health at work—to help reduce stigma.
“It’s important that employees know it’s OK to talk about mental health and well-being in the workplace and to reach out and ask for help,” says Jennifer Lollino, vice president of human resources for Ecos, a manufacturer of ecologically friendly cleaning products whose workforce includes both essential factory employees and remote office staff.
Lollino, as a business leader, and Pratt, as a medical expert, joined the You Belong in Business podcast to talk through solutions.
The challenge: How can businesses better support the mental health and well-being of employees when they need it most?
- Ecos launched a weekly “Wellness Wednesdays” program early in the pandemic to keep its workforce better connected, with an outlet for handling common causes of stress. The program began among remote workers and executives and quickly spread to the entire staff. Outside guests (such as a nutritionist educating employees on immune-boosting foods) have been featured alongside internal experts, with topics ranging from meditation to diversity.
- To monitor employee well-being, the company assembled its executive team to discuss challenges to the entire staff (including themselves), and then they collaborated on solutions.
- Ecos transitioned from in-person yoga classes pre-COVID to virtual sessions, recognizing the strong correlation between physical and mental health. “Treating mental health conditions is also good for your physical health,” Pratt says. He cites studies showing that as little as 30 minutes of exercise daily for three to five days per week may significantly improve symptoms of depression or anxiety, while time spent in nature has quantifiable health benefits, even after only a couple hours.
- An employee assistance program, or EAP, offers a support network to the employees of an enrolled business. The “life assistance” of an EAP may include help lining up childcare, identity theft resolution, recovery from substance misuse, and virtual or in-person counseling sessions.
Listen to the full episode to catch all the insights.
Check out our series on employee mental health and well-being
Main article: “How to support employee mental health in stressful times”
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Magellan and Ecos are not affiliated with any company of the Principal Financial Group®.
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