Skip to main content

5 Ways HR Can Support Employees’ Mental Health


An employee’s mental health includes how they think, feel and act, and includes their emotional and social well-being. While mental health includes mental illness, the two aren’t interchangeable. An employee can go through a period of poor mental health but not necessarily have a clear, diagnosable mental illness. Additionally, an employee’s mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as their workload, stress and work-life balance. 

While 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness annually, a recent study by Deloitte revealed that less than half receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absenteeism than any other injury or illness. 

Given its prevalence, you can expect that employees at your organization are experiencing mental health challenges or mental illness. That’s why it’s so important that your organization creates a culture that is supports employees’ mental health. While this may sound complicated, creating a workplace that is supportive of mental health and illness is easier than it seems. Here are five simple ways that your company can support employees and their mental health.

Promote Mental Health Awareness in the Office

The first step to creating a workplace that is supportive of employees’ mental health is promoting awareness and destigmatizing mental health or illness. Provide resources to help employees learn more about mental health or mental illnesses, and give information about how employees who may be struggling can seek out help. When you openly talk about mental health, employees are more likely to feel comfortable about the concept and reach out to managers or co-workers if they’re struggling. 

You can also establish a workplace environment that is supportive of mental health by:

  • Encouraging social support among employees, such as an organized support group that meets regularly
  • Setting up an anonymous portal through which employees can reach out to let HR or managers know that they’re struggling with high stress and need help 
  • Providing training on problem solving, effective communication and conflict resolution 
  • Promoting your employee assistance program (EAP), if you offer one 

Offer Flexible Scheduling

Work-life balance, or a lack thereof, can affect an employee’s mental health. To help employees better balance their work and personal lives, employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility. While this looks different at every company, workplace flexibility can include flextime, telecommuting and unlimited paid time off (PTO) policies. Flexible schedules provide employees with job satisfaction, better health, increased work-life balance and less stress.

Address Workplace Stress

Nearly 80% of Americans consider their jobs stressful. Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased employee fatigue, irritability and health problems. Additionally, workplace stress costs U.S. employers approximately $300 billion in lost productivity annually. 

While it may not be possible to eliminate job stress altogether for your employees, you can help them learn how to manage it effectively. Common job stressors include a heavy workload, intense pressure to perform at high levels, job insecurity, long work hours, excessive travel, office politics and conflicts with co-workers.

You can implement various activities to help reduce employee stress, which can improve health and morale—and productivity. 

  • Make sure that workloads are appropriate. 
  • Have managers meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication.
  • Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately—do not tolerate bullying, discrimination or any other similar behaviors. 
  • Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes. This contributes to morale and decreases stress levels.

Evaluate Your Benefits Offerings

Review the benefits you offer to ensure that they support mental well-being, too. Evaluate your current health plan designs. Do they cover mental health services? Reviewing the offerings that your organization provides is essential to creating a culture that supports employee mental health. 

In similar fashion, look to see what voluntary benefits you can offer to support mental well-being. Consider offering simple perks like financial planning assistance (as financial stress often contributes to poor mental health), employee discount programs (where employees can receive gym memberships, stress-reducing massages or acupuncture at a lower cost) and EAPs to support your employees.

Provide Mental Health Training for Managers

One of the most significant problems hindering mental health support at work is the stigma that surrounds mental health. Despite the recent moves in society toward destigmatizing mental health, issues still persist. To ensure that no stigma surrounding mental health exists at your organization, it’s important that you properly train management in recognizing the signs of mental illness, excessive workplace stress, workplace bullying and fatigue. Moreover, managers should be trained to handle potentially difficult conversations with employees surrounding their mental health. Ultimately, they should be prepared to speak openly about mental health rather than avoid the topic. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Workforce webpage to learn more.

For additional resources on any of the strategies outlined above or more information about employee benefits, our services and products, please contact HANYS Benefit Services by email or by calling (518) 431-7735. 

This is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as professional advice.  © 2022 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved. 

Popular posts from this blog

COVID-19: Retirement and Benefit Plan Resources

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to unfold, we are closely monitoring news and updates from top sources. We’ll be updating this section as new developments unfold. Here are several key articles and links to help plan sponsors and administrators navigate the COVID-19 impact to retirement and benefit plans: Retirement Plans 4 Key CARES Act Provisions for Retirement Plan Sponsors Markets React to Coronavirus   Important Considerations for Retirement Plan Sponsors during the Coronavirus Pandemic In Fed We Trust Participant Education Services: Timely Help from a Safe Distance CRDs 100% Taxable for New York State and Local Income Tax Purposes in 2020 IRS Permits Remote Notarization of Participant Elections   Employee Benefits CARES Act Expands Health Coverage Rules Understanding the Historic $2 Trillion Stimulus Package Employee Compensation and Benefits During Closures and Furloughs DOL Clarifies Exemptions to Coronavirus Paid Leave Laws Small Business Exemption to

Coronavirus-related distributions 100% taxable for New York state and local income tax purposes in 2020

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law on March 27. Under the Act, participants affected by the coronavirus may be able to take distributions in 2020 of up to $100,000 from an employer-sponsored retirement plan or an IRA. Although allowing these distributions from a qualified retirement plan is optional, we have seen that a number of employers have chosen to amend their plans to permit such distributions. The Act provides that coronavirus-related distributions will not be subject to the mandatory 20% withholding nor the 10% early withdrawal penalty (for those younger than 59½) that would otherwise apply.

HANYS Benefit Services names Noah Buck president

Buck brings 20 years of retirement and benefits industry experience to leadership role of boutique advisory agency  Rensselaer, NY July 14, 2022— HANYS Benefit Services announced today Noah Buck has been appointed president. Buck steps into the advisory agency’s leadership role at a time when organizations are seeking expert retirement and employee benefits guidance for fiduciary governance and employee engagement. With HBS since 2019, Buck had most recently served as interim president and was previously vice president of client relationship management. Before joining HBS, Buck was a principal in Milliman’s employee benefits practice. He earned a Bachelor of Science in management science and information systems from Penn State University and a Master of Business Administration from SUNY Albany. "I’m honored to be leading a team that is passionate about making sure our clients are meeting their organization’s and employees’ needs,” said Buck. “A focused approach to retirement and