Mental wellness has become increasingly important to our overall well being in times of isolation and social distancing. We need to be more aware than ever about our own mental health and wellness, and that of our coworkers and team.
“The global coronavirus pandemic has impacted not only the physical health of many individuals and their loved ones, but their mental health as well. It is important to bolster commitment and efforts to support employee mental health at this time.”
-Mind Share Partners Toolkit on Supporting Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Organizational leaders have a responsibility to their staff to ensure they have a safe and healthy working environment. Part of that involves the overall mental wellness of yourself and your staff. Here are some things that leadership can consider when addressing mental wellness in the workplace. For more information on our source for this section, check out Mind Share Partners free toolkit on supporting employee mental health during the coronavirus pandemic here.
Create a list of mental health resources and make it easy to access by your staff. Frequently audit these resources to make sure they are accurate and up to date. Provide these resources in a variety of formats (e.g. video, paper, online).
Provide mental health training and awareness programs for leadership and employees to learn best practices around navigating mental health at work.
Prioritize confidentiality at all times.
Be transparent about you or your family’s own mental health challenges in order to normalize it.
Be thoughtful in your language. Refrain from using negative phrases such as “mental problems”. Don’t casually use diagnostic terms (like OCD or bipolar) to describe everyday behavior.
Include all staff so you are not singling out individuals who need mental health support. Anonymous surveys can make it easier for employees to participate.
Set boundaries on work schedules. It can be tempting to work more when you are working from home.
Encourage breaks in the work day for exercise and fresh air.
Normalize the challenges that come with working remotely. Continue to communicate that it will take everyone time to adjust.
Take a mental health day occasionally, even if you aren’t leaving the house, and encourage staff to do the same.
Use virtual meeting options with video for regular check-ins and to allow a “face-to-face” connection. Express gratitude for your staff’s resilience.
Be available. Reinforce that no question or concern is too trivial and encourage staff to reach out to you with any issues. Clarify how and when information will be communicated and follow up consistently.
Encourage flexible working to allow employees to work in a way that best fits their mental health needs.
It is important to know what you are capable of when it comes to improving your mental well-being. Having an intimate understanding of what causes stress, anxiety, and happiness in your day to day routine can allow you to harness your emotions and improve your mental health. Take a look at these helpful tips and exercises you can complete on your own to improve your overall mental wellness.
Breathing Exercises – Simple breathing exercises have been shown to reduce stress, lower your heart rate, and improve your mood. While there are lots of different exercises, SKC staff has found a couple to be helpful: Tactical Breathing and Belly Breathing. Check out the links for instructions on these and other breathing exercises.
Practicing Self Compassion – Dr. Kristen Neff has provided a helpful exercise called the Self-Compassion Break. We can practice when we are stressed, it highlights the importance of giving yourself the same support and compassion that you give to others. Her site also has several other exercises that you can complete on your own.
10 Facets Of Resilience, Sense Of Coherence – The Kansas Health System and Turning Point have published the 10 Facets of Resilience. It is a guide to help you manage stress, cultivate optimism, and remain hopeful. While all 10 facets are important, we wanted to highlight number 9, a Sense of Coherence. It is the belief that life is meaningful and worth the struggle. It also includes the belief that there are resources, routines and rituals to help you handle the chaotic and unpredictable parts of life. Some key takeaways of this facet are:
- Your life is meaningful and how you respond to the challenges of life matters.
- You have the potential to make an impact on the world just by being grounded in your values and by choosing to live bravely and compassionately during challenges.
- Do your part to uplift yourself and others. Seemingly small things make a big difference.
- Trust that your efforts make an impact.
Wisdom Labs, in partnership with the Kauffman Foundation, is offering free access to its Mindfulness app for 90-days. This app can be used individually or as an entire organization.
From their website,
“Wisdom Labs believes business is a force for social change and it starts with our behaviors at work. More mindfulness, compassion, awareness, and resilience in the workplace will lead to more thoughtful decisions, better relationships, more meaning, and unlocking of unique human potential—and these are the types of changes that ripple out to improve people’s lives and the planet in general.”
SKC has been invited to share Wisdom Labs resources with the organizations that we partner with. To provide your staff with free access to resources that may help them navigate the stress and uncertainty of the COVID-19 public health crisis please visit this link and sign up. There you will find resources and apps (Wise@Work app) to help with mental health and well-being.
Forward the link above to others in your organization so they can take advantage of this opportunity as well. If you are uncertain how to introduce these resources in your organization there are helpful email templates on their website to make communication easier. There are no strings attached or expectations to continue after the 90-days.
While there are many great resources available for mental wellness and health, we found a few that you may find helpful.
National Alliance on Mental Illness Helpline (M-F, 10-6PM Eastern) 800-950-NAMI
National Alliance on Mental Illness Crisis Text Line: text NAMI to 741-741
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-TALK
Mental Health America’s blog post about what companies, both large and small, are doing to promote and support mental health.
Mental Health America’s Mental Health and COVID-19 Resource Page.
The Center for Workplace Mental Health Employer Resource page. The rest of the site is also a great source.
Mind Share Partners Workplace Mental Health Resources. We found the toolkit very helpful in researching for this email’s content.
The University of Kansas Health System’s blog post: Using the 10 Facets of Resilience During COVID-19.
The University of Kansas Health System’s blog post: Tips for Staying Resilient During COVID-19
Self-Compassion by Dr. Kristin Neff