Surefire Ways To Improve Access To Mental Health Counsel And Why Organizations Should Revisit Their Definition Of 'Wellness'

Making wellness a part of the company's standard evaluation approach, whether it is completed quarterly, monthly or weekly, is the need of the hour

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Quality employee experiences continue to remain in the spotlight in 2022. While the pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on health systems all over the world, there's also been a deep impact on the mental health of individuals. COVID-19 has left a lot of us operating from home for months. This has intensified the impact of our professions on our private lives. While such modifications have surely allowed many employees to prove their efficiency, among other advantages such as flexibility, the shift also comes with its share of negative impact. This has resulted in a compromise on overall well-being, for many. Therefore, it is imperative that organizations strengthen their efforts to proactively support mental health and wellness in the workplace. This benefits both employers and employees.

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Pandemic or not, mental health issues are often hard to identify on the offset, before they evidently affect an employee's well-being and efficiency. While many employees may shy away from discussing mental health issues at work, fearing judgement, some employees find it hard to even recognize or accept these challenges they may be facing. Hence companies need to proactively become aware of their overarching cultural challenges and holistically design support systems that help employees cope with the mental health challenges they may be facing.

The central government, recognizing the importance of mental wellbeing, recently announced the "National Tele Mental Health' programme, as a part of the Union Budget 2022: promoting tele-mental health facilities that boost the reach of mental wellness services even to remote areas. Companies too, rightly so, are now taking increased efforts in promoting and encouraging the wellbeing of their employees. It may seem tougher to build a lifestyle of care in a virtual setting than in a shared workspace, but as employers of choice, one could, nonetheless, make a real and lasting impact remotely as well.

With this in mind, here are some of the ways organizations can help and support the mental health of the employees:

Include mental health coverage as part of your health care plan

The emotional health profile is essentially a personalised roadmap for a person's well-being journey. Not only does it provide insights into his or her coping strategies, relationships/social support, etc., it also serves as the starting point of the person's well-being journey with hand holding by expert well-being coaches. This initiative will help employees avail help or counselling sessions with therapists and/or doctors whenever needed.

Create peer support groups

Peer groups are designed to help lower barriers among participants in a group setting, leading the way to greater mutual support and trust. Simple things such as seeing each other and being able to relate to and empathise with their colleagues help reduce stress and improved cohesion within the team. Everyone will have a space where they could be vulnerable with their teammates and share their feelings about work-related struggles and challenges. Colleagues do build a sense of "not being alone' in this journey. The result: a team that's more committed to working compassionately to accomplish common goals at work!

Monitor workload

Managing workloads is a concern when the workforce in the organization has shrunk or there are elements of workload which the employees face at home like managing child care or having the responsibilities of someone elder in the house. Under such circumstances, employees may not be able to handle the regular workloads which shift the weight to their peers. But all of us need balance. Introducing a bookend to each working day like a conversation over coffee or end of day happy hour will surely offer employees an opportunity to reflect, refresh, gain a bigger picture perspective and set what needs to be achieved.

Host seminars and relaxation activities

Hosting workshops to help employees reduce anxiety and address stress management techniques like meditation, breathing exercises which will help improve focus and motivation. Along with it, a dedicated workplace for relaxation activities will do even better. Even organizations can offer quarterly guided imagery relaxation sessions to teach stress management strategies. Provide managers with proper training to help them identify if any employee in the team is showing signs and symptoms of stress and help them seek guidance from a qualified mental health professional.

Actively listen to your employees

While it is no secret, communication is the fundamental key to uplifting employee morale and to foster a healthy work environment. Companies today, unlike what may have been the norm in the past, must remove one way top-down communications, and instead foster holistic and multi way communications. With active engagement, employees feel they have a voice that is heard. Having true communication with employees can make them feel comfortable and share their problems with confidence. Further, having regular feedback sessions contributes to active listening positively.

In conclusion, it is certain that mental health and wellness are a crucial part of everybody's existence. Making wellness a part of the company's standard evaluation approach, whether it is completed quarterly, monthly or weekly, is the need of the hour. Let's make use of this time to ask how employees truly feel, their perspectives on how the organization enables their well-being and what they would like to do differently.