How do you address mental health in the workplace?
May 11, 2022
Mental health and employee well-being have fast become a key priority for many employers. The pandemic impacted everyone — while the world of work has evolved more in the past couple of years than it has in the past decade. This, along with the cost-of-living crisis and record inflation (not to mention the geopolitical events currently taking place across the globe), has undoubtedly had an impact on the mental health and well-being of today’s employees. In fact, a survey from Monster revealed 25% of people said they’re struggling to maintain their mental health and well-being in the workplace.
There are many initiatives designed to help improve mental health and well-being in the workplace, including employee assistance programs, nutrition sessions, financial well-being seminars and so on. Mental Health First Aider Programs (MHFA), which are designed to help employees who are struggling with their mental health, are also becoming a common feature in many workplaces.
WilsonHCG has a global MHFA program, so we spoke to Becky Jenkins, a senior manager on our People & Culture team, to learn more about how it’s helping employees.
Q: What is the WilsonHCG Mental Health First Aider program (MHFA)?
A: Our MHFA program is run by employees for employees. We have a team of mental health first aiders (MHFAs) who have completed an accredited training program on how to identify, understand and help someone who may be experiencing mental health issues. Our MHFAs can then guide people who are having issues to appropriate support.
Q: Where are the mental health first aiders based?
A: Our MHFAs are based in Poland, the UK and the US. We’re looking to expand this program into other regions (including APAC) in the coming months following the positive feedback we’ve received from employees.
Q: Why did WilsonHCG decide to launch this initiative?
A: WilsonHCG is committed to ensuring a judgement-free and supportive work environment. Employee mental health and well-being is a hugely important topic, and the impact of the pandemic really highlighted the issue of mental health. Our employees also called out mental health support as an area of opportunity in 2020 at the height of the pandemic during our quarterly employee pulse surveys, so we decided to launch the program. We asked for volunteers across the business, and they completed an accredited course to become mental health first aiders.
They provide an additional layer of support for employees who may not want to address mental health with their leaders, or the People & Culture team, and would rather speak to their peers.
Q: What does a mental health first aider do?
The role of a mental health first aider in the workplace is to be a point of contact for employees who are experiencing mental health issues or emotional distress. The assistance could range from having an initial conversation to supporting the person to get appropriate help. As well as in a crisis, mental health first aiders are valuable in providing early intervention for someone who may be developing a mental health issue. Mental health first aiders are not trained to be therapists or psychiatrists, but they can offer support through non-judgmental listening and guidance.
Q: Why is it so important to support employees with their mental health and well-being?
A: By offering our employees confidential support, guidance and access to appropriate professional support or self-help strategies, we’re promoting a culture of participation, equality and fairness as well as reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental health problems.
Q: How successful has the program been so far?
The employees who have received support from our MHFAs are in a much better place having received guidance. As knowledge of the support available grows, this will no doubt become a hugely important support function for our employees. Our MHFAs have also hosted time for talking sessions that have been well attended, covering a range of different topics related to mental health and well-being.
Q: What other initiatives does WilsonHCG have to help boost employee well-being and mental health?
We have a wellness committee which runs a calendar of well-being related events ranging from physical health with our Get Moving Challenge to financial well-being. We also have an employee assistance program that’s available 24/7, globally. We have a dedicated information section about mental health and well-being on our online training portal that’s updated with new content regularly and we host quarterly Time to Talk sessions led by our MHFAs on various subjects.
Q: What’s your advice to employees who are experiencing mental health issues?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Starting the conversation is sometimes the hardest part.
Q: What’s your top three tips for an employer that is considering a similar mental health and well-being initiative?
Make sure mental health and employee well-being is a boardroom issue on par with physical health.
Increase mental health literacy across your organization to normalize the conversation around mental health and promote compassion across your company.
Promote the importance of a healthy work-life balance among your employees and let them know they can reach out for help any time they need it.
Additional global resources
If you or someone you know is in need of mental health support, please check out the below resources:
WilsonHCG is an award-winning, global leader in total talent solutions. Operating as a strategic partner, it helps some of the world’s most admired brands build comprehensive talent functions. With a global presence spanning more than 65 countries and six continents, WilsonHCG provides a full suite of configurable talent services including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, contingent talent solutions and talent consulting. TALENT.™ It’s more than a solution, it’s who we are.