Leaving the Mental Health Stigma Behind in 2022
Before the pandemic, the discussion surrounding mental health within the workplace was just heating up, emphasizing the importance of reactive over proactive approaches. Fast forward and we’re seeing greater normalization over what was once a stigmatized topic.
In response, employers have realized there’s an increasing need for mental health awareness to become an integral part of company culture.
Some examples of this in practice include the water treatment company, Culligan. They offer employees access to an on-site wellbeing manager, employee assistance counseling, weekly self-care videos, manager wellbeing calls, stress management activities, 1:1 health coaching for employees and their spouses, live meditation sessions and more.
Another great example is EY (Ernst & Young), who took a proactive approach to support staff through COVID-19 by organizing a 12-week course on mindfulness. This included practice sessions, drop-in sessions for help with anxiety, stress, social isolation and backup support with childcare. These were all additions to their existing mental health provisions, which already included 1:1 counseling and access to external mental health clinicians.
Organizations will move to more upfront, transparent provisions around employee mental health for future hires and staff alike. This open approach to mental health works wonders for encouraging conversation and destigmatizing the topic. For HR professionals, this may include weaving in details concerning their company's mental health policies into recruitment and onboarding materials.
While it's too early to see any evidence of how these approaches have improved employee wellbeing, a 2020 McKinsey report summarizes the pandemic's impact on employee mental health. Here they made particular reference to 18 to 25-year-olds, where mental health difficulties were of the highest prevalence. HR professionals and their organizations will have to make genuine mental health provisions for this emerging cohort. This will be particularly true of sectors with skills shortages, where employers are looking to Gen Z'ers and Millennials to fill in the gaps.