Building A Workplace Mental Wellness Program
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The good news about improving mental wellness in the workplace and for employees is that you have plenty of options, and most of them free.

The better news is that you don’t have to deploy all of the options. Even just implementing a few of these suggestions could make an enormous difference.

 
Get Buy-In From The Top

When you realize the prevalence of mental illness, it’s not a stretch to believe that your own CEO and other corporate leaders probably have their own very personal experience with such struggles. That reality could make it much easier to sell the idea of launching a comprehensive and sincere effort to address it in the workplace. Buy-in from the top is absolutely crucial, not only to give the program the best chance of success but to ensure that all employees really believe in its sincerity. And one the best ways to achieve buy-in is to present a solid case that should focus on why it’s great for employees, for productivity and performance, for customer relationships, and for the bottom line.

 
Find Your Champions

Just like cybersecurity and privacy, important causes can become infectious when they’re led by passionate and believable champions. Chances are, your workplace has those champions. They may even have their very own and very personal experience with mental illness that could help to not only increase that passion but make the messages very real. Finding, engaging, supporting, and ever rewarding those champions could be the easiest way to build a successful program.

 
Encourage Employees To Share Their Personal Stories And Struggles

Simply talking about personal mental wellness struggles can be very therapeutic for employees. Talking about them openly in a judgment-free and supportive workplace can be even more therapeutic and help to eliminate many of the stressors that can make mental illness worse. And giving all employees the chance to understand the invisible struggles of their co-workers, and maybe even help them, can be a powerful therapy for the entire workplace.

 
Don’t Just Train Managers, Teach Everyone

Something as simple and as fundamental as being polite to customers is part of a culture and responsibility that belongs to everyone in the workplace, and not just leaders and managers. It should be the same for mental wellness. Everyone in the workplace should be educated about the basics of mental illness, how it can impact their co-workers, and how to recognize the signs. They should also be included in any programs and discussions and especially in understanding how to respond and relate to others dealing with the challenges.

 
Teach Them The Language 
We know from other fields of study that most humans naturally, instinctively like to help other humans who might be suffering, and your employees are no different. But if they want to help without harming, they should know a little about mental illnesses and especially how to talk to co-workers who are struggling. Depression and anxiety are not the same but can be very closely connected. Bi-polar disorder and manic depression are the same except that...it’s complicated. Moodiness is not necessarily a recognized mood disorder. And perhaps most important of all, employees should know what to say and to never say in their efforts to do the right thing.
 
Assign Leaders
Not quite the same as champions, but they can be. By assigning the challenge of researching, creating, and maintaining a mental wellness program to one or a number of individuals, you’re giving yourself a much better chance of a positive outcome. Those individuals don’t have to be champions, and don’t have to have had any previous experience with mental health issues. Just leaders who are committed to and capable of taking on one of the most important challenges in any workplace.
 
Make It A Cause 
There’s nothing more viral and stirring than an important social cause that helps everyone. With so many people suffering from mental illness, and so many families called on to support their loved ones, mental wellness is a cause everyone can get behind.