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How To Talk About Mental Health With Your Employees

Mental Health Awareness month is recognized in May and serves as a reminder of the importance of caring for our mental well-being. And, with data showing a working population increasingly suffering from stress and burnout, most of us needed the reminder. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports 86% of employers count mental health issues as a workplace priority, but only 26% of employers say they have a strategy for dealing with these issues at work. How can publishers appropriately address and support employee mental health?

Communicate honestly

If an employee shares that they are experiencing a mental health-related issue, open the lines of communication. In doing so, be sensitive, tactful, and empathetic. Never push. Make sure they understand you are there to support them. Don’t assume you know what’s going on with the employee, but do acknowledge that they seem “off” and ask if they are okay.

When an employee discloses a mental health issue and asks for accommodation, be aware of the rules that govern your professional response. As the employer, if your organization has 15 or more employees, the law requires you to make reasonable accommodations if they don’t cause undue hardship. This could include offering the employee flex time or extra breaks or even a quieter workspace.

Train your managers

People are increasingly talking openly about mental health issues. But don’t assume your managers understand the proper way to respond to a worker suffering from these issues. The employee may even try to hide the issue. Train your management team to be aware of the signs of burnout or other mental health issues and how to handle them when they occur.

There shouldn’t be a stigma around mental health. After all, your brain is part of your body — mental health is health. Your teams should be aware of the issues surrounding mental health and learn to listen without judging to provide the support your teams need going forward.