May 12, 2022
By creating a psychologically safe workplace, organizations can strengthen efforts to promote mental health and wellbeing and reduce mental health stigma. People who experience psychological safety at work know they won’t be embarrassed or punished for speaking up, voicing a dissenting opinion and being their authentic selves — including asking for the help and treatment they need.
In the pandemic era, mental health has become a topic affecting organizations across industries. An employee survey by JobSage, an employer review site, found that in the past two years, 28% of Americans have left a job because it affected their mental health. And 37% want more discussions about mental health, with 35% saying they want their employers to provide more training on stress management and other related topics.
An effective way to address psychological safety and mental health is to take a holistic approach and involve all departments and employees, at every level, including the leadership team.
These are 5 actions organizations can take now to promote a psychological safe and mental-health friendly workplace:
Discuss mental health in the workplace
Acknowledge the importance of recognizing and addressing mental health. Provide different opportunities for employees to raise questions and learn about mental health issues and trends from subject matter experts. Webinars, online and in-person sessions, hotlines and ongoing conversations with employees and teams are some of the ways to talk about and destigmatize depression, stress, anxiety, drug and alcohol misuse and other mental health issues.
Demonstrate empathy and concern for team members’ human side
Regularly check in with employees and ask questions about problems or challenges they may be struggling with. Showing empathy and compassion and actively listening fosters a sense of belonging that helps individuals feel more comfortable sharing their challenges.
Promote healthy work-life boundaries
Offering flexible and remote work options has become a priority for many employees, especially those with caregiver responsibilities. Promoting work-life boundaries, such as not scheduling meetings outside of normal work hours, avoiding after-hours emails and encouraging employees to take time off can improve engagement, performance and overall emotional, psychological and social wellbeing.
Increase mental health and wellness benefits
Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are an increasingly popular way to offer employees assistance and services for personal and work-related problems, including behavioral and mental health issues. Providing an EAP is not enough, however. Organizations should actively promote and encourage employees to take advantage of the different services available, ensure easy access and keep track of any persistent reluctance or stigma associated with mental health programs.
Provide training on psychological safety at work
Training employees and managers on psychological safety is a proactive measure to raise awareness and teach supportive behaviors and practices that foster trust and transparency, improve team members’ mental health and wellbeing and reduce burnout and turnover.
Mental Health Awareness Month highlights the interconnection between psychological safety and mental health. Making psychological safety part of a holistic approach to employee wellbeing can strengthen efforts to reduce mental health stigma, promote overall health and wellness and create a supportive, speak-up culture in which employees can thrive.