May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This May is special because it’s the first May since 2019 where there has been a sense of “normalcy” returning to the American Workplace. But with a new normal brought on by the pandemic, it is now more important than ever to address the topics and stigma of Mental Health in the Workplace.
Here are the facts:
According to the 2021 edition of the Gallup State of the Workplace Report, 57% of all workers in the US report feeling daily stress and according to a Mental Health report done by Pathways, 88% of employees reported concerns with their stress levels over the past year.
Let’s face it, the past couple years have not been kind to everyone, especially in the workplace. The global pandemic uprooted many of us from our familiar desks and threw us into a suddenly remote world. Once we got a little comfortable in the remote workplace, everything started opening up and now we are all “back” in the workplace. But it is not the same familiar office that we spent so much time getting to know our teams in, it has changed completely.
Everyone went through different trials and tribulations during this time, some went through it alone while others had some form of support network to rely on. But no matter the circumstances, the workforce is very different now compared to early 2020. In addition to the changes that we all went through, we may be tired of the old social norm puzzle that we just don't fit into anymore. Because of these changes, mental health concerns have increased in the workplace, and it is affecting everyone.
But what can we do? Mental Health was one of those topics that society has silently agreed to keep silent. Luckily for us, that is one of the things the global pandemic decided to change for the better. The time is now to break the stigma surrounding mental health.
The mental health resources available to both employees and employers are extensive and that is why we at Benafica have taken the time to compile a collection of great ideas and resources for you to use to help you address mental health concerns in your workplace.
Create an Open and Welcoming Atmosphere
Oftentimes, the workplace culture and the need for professionalism builds a wall that discourages coworkers and employers from being open with each other. Because of this, most workers go through their workplace mental challenges alone and they feel like they have little to no support. This needs to be addressed in many workplaces around the nation. Employers and employees can work together to create a more open and welcoming workplace with a few of these ideas.
- Create a safe place to talk: Whether it be a conference room, a private office, or even a dedicated room to check in with each other, having some place to chat about these sensitive and vulnerable topics is important to creating a more open atmosphere.
- Be vulnerable with each other: Learning to break down the societal walls and be open and vulnerable with each other is one of the best ways to create a more open and welcoming workplace. This is especially true for employers and managers, when an employer or manager is sharing their own mental health journey with their employees, it may inspire others to share their own journeys.
It may sound way too simple and way too easy, but it works. Seriously. Having routine and drop-in one on one meetings between supervisors and employees as well as just between employees is one of the best ways to combat the stigma of mental health in the workplace. During these meetings, it is important that everyone has a chance to be heard but it is also very important that everyone is being listened to. These meetings are a time to have the whole story be told with open communication between the two members of the meeting. Questions and concerns are welcomed. It needs to be a time to share and process together.
Being Flexible and Inclusive
Everyone has different needs that change at different times. In order to create a more flexible and inclusive working environment, everyone should check in with each other often and should be willing to work together to problem solve as the needs of the team change. Being patient and understanding of everyone is also very important to achieving this level of flexibility and inclusiveness. Employers play a key role as they should be facilitating these check-ins and encouraging proactive communication, norm-setting, and flexibility among all the team members.
To achieve a healthy work environment, everyone needs to be aware of the resources available to them through their company benefits packages. Luckily Benafica works to deliver your workplace the best benefits for your needs. Many of our offerings tie directly into Mental Wellness or they can be used with your mental health expenditures.
How Benafica Can Help
Here at Benafica, we are committed to guiding you and your organization through the Benefits Ecosystem. We offer a diverse selection of Benefits Accounts and Arrangements that you and your organization can utilize to provide a better mental health benefits selection. We can also help you navigate your benefits to find the right selections for you and your organization.
Your organization can adapt a LSA (Lifestyle Spending Account) specifically tailored to supporting mental health or customized to include many mental health benefits. In an LSA, an employer designates a per employee per month "allowance" and employees can choose to spend those funds on an pre-approved menu of personalized interests. Our portfolio of benefit categories related to mental health include:
Stop Smoking Programs
Mental Health Therapy (group, individual, couples)
Group Social Clubs (e.g., Book Clubs)
LSAs are not limited to Mental Health categories. They can also include fitness/sports, health and wellness, financial, education, and charitable donation categories. Learn more about LSAs here.
HRAs and FSAs give you the power to have pre-tax dollars put into an account to use on qualified medical expenditures. Mental Health Services are qualified medical expenses for you to use with your HRAs and FSAs.
Mental Health is Health and your Insurance Company Agrees
Mental health coverage is required by the Affordable Care Act and should be included on your employer's health insurance package. Please let us know if you have any questions regarding ACA Compliance in your organization.
We have an experienced team here at Benafica who are committed to helping individuals and employers navigate the world of insurance and benefits at any stage in the process.
We are happy to be your guide to creating a better benefits ecosystem!
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