Talking about mental health in the workplace can be a delicate balance. On the one hand, disclosing mental health issues to a supportive employer can lead to accommodations and support that can help an employee thrive. On the other, there is a real risk of stigma and discrimination that can make disclosure a daunting prospect.
The reality is that mental health conditions, like any other disabilities, are still stigmatized in many workplaces. Employees who request accommodations or disclose their mental health conditions may face stereotyping, be labeled as “difficult” or “unreliable,” or even get passed over for job assignments and promotions. This stigma can make it challenging for employees to feel comfortable discussing their mental health needs with their employer, even when they need support.
So, how can a workplace demonstrate that it supports its employees’ mental health, and create an environment where employees feel safe to disclose their mental health needs?
Organizations can provide education and resources on mental health issues to all employees, including managers. This can help equip employees on what to do in difficult situations. We highly recommend the Psychological First Aid course offered by the Canadian Red Cross, which provides valuable training on how to support others who may be experiencing a mental health crisis or traumatic event. This course can equip employees with the knowledge and skills to provide initial support and refer their colleagues to appropriate mental health resources.
Employers must create a culture that prioritizes employee well-being. This can include offering flexible work arrangements, providing access to counselling, addressing workplace stressors that may contribute to mental health issues – such as excessive workloads and unrealistic deadlines – and ensuring that employees are not penalized or judged for taking time off to address their mental health. Starbucks Canada offers a mental health benefit of up to $5,000 per year to all employees, demonstrating a commitment to supporting employee well-being and creating an inclusive workplace culture.
Ultimately, it is up to the employer to create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable taking care of their mental health, without fear of negative repercussions. By prioritizing education and fostering a supportive culture, employers can prove to their employees that they care about their well-being, and are committed to supporting them in their mental health journey.
If you’re interested in creating a more inclusive and accommodating workplace where are employees can thrive, we can help. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss customized solutions for your business.