This month, we’re excited to see more people talking about a topic that’s not discussed (or even thought about) nearly enough: mental wellness in the workplace. 

At Fitspot Wellness, we’re highly aware that many in the corporate wellness industry tends to focus solely on physical health. With a primary goal of improving employees’
risk factors and biometric stats, corporate health companies would offer biometric screenings, flu shots, and maybe, if they’re generous, exercise classes or gym

This is all provided in hopes of helping employees lose weight, improve any existing health conditions such as diabetes or cardiovascular disease, and prevent future health conditions. Which certainly has a place in the corporate wellness world. 

The only problem? Health is so much more than simply a number on the scale, or merely the absence of disease. In order to achieve optimal well-being, employees’ mental and emotional health must come into proper
alignment as well. That’s why it’s so important for HR departments and workplace wellness programs to take a holistic approach to health—mind, body, and spirit included. 

Plus, this won’t only benefit your employees’ well-being—it’ll also improve your businesses’ bottom line.  

According to the Center for Workplace Mental Health, depression and the associated issues (such as presenteeism, absenteeism, and healthcare costs) set employers back an estimated $44 billion annually in lost productivity. It’s also the leading cause of disability worldwide, per the World Health
Organization, and the total economic burden is now $210.5 billion per
year globally.

Stress packs an even bigger punch to companies’ profits. Work-related stress is the cause of nearly $300 billion in health care costs annually. And while 65% of Americans cite work as their top source of stress, only 36% of employees said their organizations provide sufficient resources to help them cope with it, according to the American Psychological Association

What You Can Do

So, poor mental health in the workplace is a problem—even an epidemic, to borrow from Arianna Huffington. The good news: More and more companies are seeing the value of promoting mental wellness in the workplace. 

Plus, corporate wellness providers are starting to think outside the traditional corporate-health box. As a workplace wellness company, we’ve come up a variety of strategies that HR departments, managers, and even C-suite execs can put into place to help their employees take better care of their mental well-being and overall health. Here are seven tips to help you get started. (Want more? Download our free e-book, Thinking Well About Mental Health at Work: 16 Practical Solutions That Help.)

1) Know what the symptoms of depression look like. Make sure your HR team is well-versed in symptoms of depression—which is more than just being sad or having a bad day. People who have depression may experience severe exhaustion and fatigue, difficulty focusing, feelings of emptiness, sadness, or guilt, withdrawal from others, and changes in sleep or appetite. (Find other symptoms listed here.)

2) Let employees know about available services. Many workplaces have employee assistance programs that include confidential mental health services. In addition, you can provide employees with links to hotlines, such as the Crisis Text Line, or online therapy services, such as BetterHelp and TalkSpace.   

3) Avoid pressuring people to open up. Whether or not to disclose mental health issues is every employee’s personal choice. If they feel like it’s impacting the quality of their work, employees should assess their relationships with their boss and determine how much information, if any, they feel comfortable sharing. They may also tap their HR contact to help provide insight and consult about the best way to approach the conversation.

4) Be proactive with programs that boost morale. From massage services to happy hours to group yoga classes, on-site wellness programs have been proven to boost morale and improve employees attitudes toward their employers. While they won’t eliminate symptoms of depression or stress, they can definitely help boost the overall mood at work!

5) Provide stress-relief resources. Companies can help their employees relax and recharge by offering massage or yoga classes at work. They can also train leaders and supervisors on effective ways to reduce stress, how to work with employees to create practical goals for optimal performance, and communicate expectations clearly.

6) Promote mindfulness and/or meditation training. Meditation is a proven way to reduce stress and anxiety, train the brain to regulate emotions, and help people learn how to handle stressful situations. Plus, it’s now convenient and portable, thanks to online apps such as Headspace, Whil, or Calm. 

7) Encourage exercise. More movement equals less stress, according to dozens of research studies. Employees can fit in fitness via onsite workouts, subsidized gym memberships, or even Classpass credits for local fitness studios. You can also consider starting workplace challenges to hit 10,000 steps per day, or holding walk-and-talk meetings to help people get more steps in during the day. 

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month this May, Fitspot is diving deep into mental wellness at work in our “Be Well with Fitspot” content series. Get the free e-book here