May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Employers are in a powerful position to help their employees take care of their mental health needs. Certainly, they can offer the benefits and accommodations that can help their workforce stay at work and return to work. And indeed, employees want employers to address holistic well-being, with 68% of survey respondents saying it’s more important than ever that employers help employees with mental health, and 41% saying they would turn down their dream job if it wasn’t good for their mental health. 


But first, companies need to take a good look at the culture of their workplace when it comes to attitudes about mental health and illness and how well-informed employees, their managers, and Human Resources (HR) department are about mental health in the workplace. Questions to consider include: 

  • Are you creating an environment where employees can feel comfortable talking about mental health and asking for help?  
  • Do your managers know about signs and symptoms that suggest a mental health issue? And conversely, do they also realize that in many cases, it isn’t obvious that an employee has a mental health concern?  
  • Do managers and HR understand that the ADA covers mental as well as physical health and the role accommodations can play for both remote and on-site employees?  
  • Are managers and HR familiar with the interactive process and know how to use it to gather information and explore, choose, implement, and monitor appropriate accommodations? 
  • Do employees know about all the programs and benefits (supplemental health, wellness coverage, EAPs, etc.) your company offers? 
  • Do managers know to avoid assumptions about mental health issues and challenge misconceptions when they hear them? 
  • Do employees use respectful language to talk about mental health conditions and respect others’ personal space and individual differences? 

Managers and HR play a crucial role; managerial support strongly correlates with employee empowerment and positive employee mental health outcomes. The more you talk about mental health in the workplace, the weaker the stigma surrounding mental illness becomes.