Dear Members, MBEs, Friends, and Colleagues,
The past year has put great stress on our collective mental health, worsening an already serious health and economic crisis. At the Council, caring for the health and wellbeing of our MBEs, members, staff and friends is deeply woven into our core values and goal of serving our community. We firmly believe that mental health should be valued, cared for and treated equally alongside our physical health.
Beyond the affect mental health has on individuals, it also has a significant impact on business. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. People who are grappling with anxiety, depression, grief, or trauma are not able to show up as their best self anywhere, and this includes the workplace. But WHO also found that for every $1 spent on treating common mental health concerns, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.
In our commitment to deliver value to our Members and MBEs, we have compiled a list of mental health resources available to share with your teams, and best practices around employee mental health. While this list is not exhaustive, some key points to consider when building a strong workplace mental health plan include:
- Health insurance benefits that offer good mental health coverage. If you are not familiar with how your employee health plan performs in this area, we encourage you to research it.
- Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs). An EPA is a voluntary, work-based program that offers free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems.
- Open communication and a pro-mental health culture. Talk about mental health openly in the workplace and encourage employees to take concrete steps to support their mental health.
- Mental health education: standard training or onboarding that covers mental health, recognizing signs of stress, and ways to help. This is especially important for managerial roles.
- Promote wellbeing by offering flexible schedules as possible, spaces dedicated to meditation or quiet, and encouraging vacation time
- Ensure your leadership models healthy behaviors. A critical part of building a positive culture around mental health is ensuring your own actions as a leader model the behaviors you encourage. Employees who see their supervisor work through all their vacations will feel less comfortable utilizing their own vacation time.
The best approach for each business will vary depending on size, existing structure and environment. Whether you are a sole proprietor or a company of 200, we encourage you to explore resources available to you and your employees, including the enclosed list. After the collective stressors of the Covid-19 pandemic and social injustice upheavals over the past year and a half, note that even as the economy begins to return to pre-pandemic state, our lives and the lives of our teams and families are far from returning to ‘pre-pandemic business as usual.’
Fernando Martinez, President & CEO NWMMSDC