During the month of May, it is a time to raise awareness of those who are living with mental health issues and reduce the stigma around this topic. Many people struggle to talk about mental health issues as they aren’t as noticeable or understood as most physical health issues are. The stigma arises as there is a lack of information and inaccurate media representations of mental health issues.
On top of the existing stigma, we are also still in the midst of a global pandemic. With this new way of living and working from home, it is important to check in on your employees and offer them virtual ways of improving their mental health and well-being.
TLDR: It can be a challenge to support the mental health and well-being of your employees with everyone working from home and only seeing them through a screen. However, there are many virtual ways to support your employees and provide them with resources.
Consider running regular mental workshops and well-being activities so employees can look forward to these activities and practice a healthier lifestyle. Consider providing free subscriptions to the top mental health apps to give your employees a 24/7 resource customized to them.
Encourage employees to maintain an organized workspace that makes them feel good and increases their productivity. Create employee support groups where employees can lean on each other by sharing their experiences and coping mechanisms.
Mental Health Workshops 📕
- A great way to start the conversation surrounding mental health is to increase the communication around this topic for the entire team. By running events like mental health workshops or lunch & learns with an expert, it will help to reduce the stigma and inform employees of all the resources available to them. Check with your mental health provider to see if they offer free webinars and events, or speakers to present at your company.
- Once you have planned out a few workshops, make sure to promote them consistently to your team such as in company-wide emails or newsletters. Also, make it a part of the onboarding process to touch on the mental health and well-being efforts as well. It is something that many individuals would strongly value and benefit from knowing when they join a new company.
Idea: Work to Wellness offers tailored workshops for your employees and workplace. Their main focus is helping your team with the resources to make your workplace (virtual or in-person) a healthier place to be. The workshops are delivered by workplace mental health specialists and cover topics from mental health, to self-care, and even employee burnout.
Regular Wellness Activities & Events 🧘♂️
- Offer employees a variety of wellness activities and events that they can participate in from their own homes. This will make sure there is an activity for everyone and it gives employees something to look forward to and develop healthy habits. By consistently practicing a healthy lifestyle with these wellness activities, it will give them more energy and motivation during their workday.
- Here are some virtual team wellness activity ideas (for most of these, you can choose to use a pre-recorded video to stream together):
- Yoga flow & stretching
- Team workouts
- Boxing class
- Dance class
- Healthy cooking & meal prep class
- Art class
- Happy hours
- Life coach lunch & learn
- Goal planning workshop
- Mental health counsellors
Idea: Platforms like Thriver and Offsyte.co offer virtual health and wellness experiences that are designed for teams of any size. Some of the experiences they offer are breath-work for stress relief, stretching essentials, meal planning, etc. These experiences bring everyone together to improve morale and to fuel employee engagement.
Slack Wellness Challenges & Channels 🥇
- For those of you who have large, global teams, you can create Slack wellness challenges that employees can participate in whenever it works best for them (considering employees are in different timezones). Create a Slack channel (or use an equivalent platform) for each of the wellness challenges so employees can engage in a conversation and share their progress and wins. This will help keep employees motivated virtually and make them accountable for reaching their goals and living healthier.
- Here are some wellness Slack challenges/channel ideas:
- Daily outdoors challenge
- Water drinking challenge
- Fitness challenge
- Weekly 5km challenge
- Daily steps challenge
- Healthy eating/meals challenge
- Daily inspirational quote channel
- Book club channel
- Digital pet therapy channel
- Virtual volunteering channel
Subscriptions to Mental Health & Well-being Apps 📲
- Many companies are including free subscriptions to well-being apps as employee benefits to offer support to everyone during these difficult times. No one was properly prepared on how to handle the effects of the pandemic, including working from home. These challenging times have tested people’s mental health and now more than ever it is important to check on those in your lives and offer support. This is a perfect way for a company to show their employees that they truly care about their well-being and mental health and are providing resources to help.
Idea: Calm is the #1 brand for mental health fitness. This app helps individuals live happier, healthier lives by helping to reduce stress and improve their sleep. Provide your employees with a free subscription to this app so they can consistently practice ways of improving their mental health and well-being.
Idea: Headspace is another excellent app that helps to improve well-being by practicing meditation. The app helps to promote mindfulness and focus so your employees can bring their best selves to work every day.
Encourage Desk/Workspace Reorganization 🖥
- It has been proven that your surroundings and work environment can affect your mental health and why being. That is why it is so important to be in a mentally healthy workplace. Things like natural light, plants, and an organized desk can improve the focus, mindset, and productivity of employees. Since many employees are still working from home, their workplace environment is out of your control.
- A way you can still help is to encourage employees to take time to reorganize their workspace at home regularly. Whether it be adding a new plant to their desk or recycling old paperwork, these little steps can instantly improve productivity. Schedule a time each month for desk reorganization and get employees to share their before and after photos in a Slack channel.
Employee Support Groups 🌻
- By creating a safe space for employees who are going through similar experiences to come together, it will provide mutual support and show them that they aren’t alone. It provides an opportunity for everyone to share their experiences and share coping strategies and resources that will work for them. You can also seek a professional to join and help lead these support group sessions and share their knowledge. These support groups can host regular meetings on a video call platform and keep an open chat in a private Slack channel.