One of the most important things employers should focus on is the mental wellness of their employees. While mental illnesses are just as serious as physical illnesses, very few people actually attempt to get help for these illnesses. Supporting your employees and encouraging them to look after their mental health will not only have a positive impact on employee engagement, but it’ll also have a positive impact on workplace productivity and retention while decreasing healthcare and disability costs. How can your company help its employees look after their mental wellness?

A good starting point is to put effort into understanding how mental health impacts your employees. Managers should be trained to recognize the signs of emotional distress in their employees so they can react accordingly; they should be supportive in stressful times. Encourage this by making mental health training mandatory for your company’s leaders. Using surveys to measure your employees’ health and stress levels can show you how it’s impacting their productivity. 

One of the biggest ways to support your employees is to make mental health coverage part of your company’s health care plan. Familiarize yourself with the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which requires insurance coverage to be no more restrictive with mental health than it is for other medical conditions. This includes substance use disorders. Take care to avoid plans that offer “phantom” mental health coverage and determine how many psychologists and psychiatrists are in the plan’s network. Starting a health savings account (HSA) can help cover out-of-pocket costs.

Additionally, you can establish an employee assistance program (EAP) to support mental health in the workplace. Some may be wary of using a program like this due to stigma, shame, and misunderstanding, but there are plenty of things you can do to encourage and increase EAP usage. Considering sending out a monthly newsletter that covers mental health and highlights the EAP program; let your employees know it’s available and confidential. You could provide direct access to mental health professionals, offer the service to both employees and their immediate family members, and make it easier for employees to know who to speak with or where to go for these resources.

Finally, communicate with your employees to reduce the stigma that surrounds mental health and increase the usage of mental health resources. Promote these resources frequently, tell your executives to mention emotional well-being when recruiting talent, build a positive work culture, and offer workshops that will teach your employees more about mental health.