A study by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found that one in five adults experienced mental illness in 2009. Yet, the majority of individuals that have these types of health conditions do not seek treatment because of cost, fear of stigma, and lack of knowledge of the treatments that exist. By educating the workforce on mental health issues, an organization can create a supportive climate that can break down the barriers of stigma and lead to steps that promote better health. The following are ideas on implementing mental health into existing health promotion and communications efforts at work.
Partner with community mental health agencies and existing benefit providers: These agencies often provide training and educational materials to community members, including area businesses.
- Training can include formal presentations on common mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, and stress in the workplace. If you have an employee assistance program (EAP), training or educational seminars may be part of your contracted service or may be available for an additional fee.
- Educational materials can include brochures, booklets, and training and resource manuals that can approach a variety of topics relating to mental health. These services are often provided at a low cost or, in some cases, free of charge.
- Incorporate mental health into your company’s health or wellness fair. EAPs and community agencies often provide information for employees at these events.
Add mental health information to your existing communications: Newsletters, payroll stuffers, post cards, e-mail blasts, and other communications can all help initiate your organization’s commitment to mental health.
- An internal newsletter can provide a great opportunity to talk about health issues. Your EAP, health care provider, or local community mental health agency may be able to provide material or assist you with the article.
- Payroll stuffers and post cards provide another option for reaching out to employees and their family members.
- Placing literature in inconspicuous areas of the workplace is also important. Instead of placing brochures in a break room or busy hallway, provide these materials in a subtle and inconspicuous place for employees, such as restrooms.
- Make sure that toll-free numbers and websites for the company’s EAP and health care provider, and/or the community mental health agency, are included in all mental health educational materials. Also, be sure that information about mental health benefits available from your EAP and health insurer is easily accessible on your company’s website. Promoting your benefits will create awareness and utilization.
*This information was adapted from “Mental Health at Work: A Resource Manual for Minnesota Employers.” To obtain a copy of this manual and other MHAM workplace publications, please visit the Workplace Publications Page.