How Employers Can Support Employee Mental Health

In today's workplace, the significance of addressing employee mental health has become increasingly crucial. The well-being of employees directly impacts their productivity, engagement, and overall satisfaction. Employers play a pivotal role in creating a supportive environment that fosters mental well-being and offers necessary resources. 

Ahead of World Mental Health Day on October 10, Adams Keegan staff have reported a dramatic increase of client calls concerning mental health. This has included a significant amount of wellness checks — more in the first six months of 2023 than in the last decade.

Creating a Supportive Environment

Employers should strive to foster open communication and destigmatize mental health discussions. While younger generations are more open about mental health issues, older generations and some businesses are still trying to catch up. Encouraging dialogue surrounding mental wellness allows employees to seek help when needed, reducing the fear of judgment or negative consequences. 

Providing mental health awareness and resilience training to all employees can help promote a supportive work environment. For example, you can ask your management team to conduct mental health awareness workshops, increasing understanding and reducing stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Offering Mental Health Benefits

To support employee mental health, employers can offer a range of mental health benefits. Comprehensive health insurance coverage, including mental health services, ensures that employees have access to necessary treatments without financial barriers. 

Additionally, employee assistance programs (EAPs) are valuable resources which provide confidential counseling and referral services for employees facing personal or work-related challenges. These programs cover the employer, the employee, and everyone in the employee’s household. Emphasize this to the employee: If someone in their household is struggling with mental health, that will affect the employee as an individual, as well as their performance at work. EAPs are often underutilized and offer an easy way for employees to receive direct help, while also providing employers with distance and coverage. 

It is equally important to educate and consistently remind your employees about their available mental health resources and benefits. For example, you can include reminders about resources in emails, memos, or scheduled meetings. Staff in senior positions can also lead discussions with employees, emphasizing any resources they may have taken advantage of themselves. This will help destigmatize the topic and let employees know there is no shame in asking for help.

Training and Education

Having a well-prepared response and support plan is crucial for effectively addressing mental health concerns in the workplace. Employers should train managers to recognize signs of mental distress, such as burnout, changes in behavior, performance, or attendance, and emotional changes.

These situations should be treated as an emergency, especially in the case of an employee threatening their own life. Thus, managers and HR professionals should know how and when to perform wellness checks and when to involve emergency contacts or local authorities. 

It’s important to keep in mind that the plan you prepare for these situations will vary depending on the employee’s unique situation. Offering continued support and time off for counseling, as well as considering the legal implications of Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), are some examples of what could vary when responding to an individual’s situation.

Promoting Work-Life Balance

Emphasize to your employees that maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for their mental well-being. You can encourage them to take their lunch break, utilize paid time off for self-care, and participate in activities they enjoy. Highlighting the importance of unplugging from work and taking time for themselves to recharge is important for the employee to feel supported in their mental health.

Regularly Evaluating and Improving Efforts

Seeking feedback from employees through surveys or focus groups can provide valuable insights into their experiences and needs. You should remain adaptable and continuously enhance your initiatives based on evolving best practices and employee feedback. This ongoing evaluation will allow for targeted improvements in assisting employee mental health.

Addressing employee mental health is not only a responsibility, but also an opportunity for employers to create a positive work environment and support the well-being of their employees. By investing in employee mental health, you can make a difference that will not only affect your employees, but also will lead to a more successful business.

The Texas Restaurant Association partnered with Teladoc Health to provide access to critical health care. HealthiestYou by Teladoc is a comprehensive bundle of physical and mental health services that every restaurant can provide to their employees and their families for $12 a month ($9 a month for TRA members).

“Accessing healthcare has always been a challenge for our industry with a majority of operators being small business owners who seek a scalable solution in an environment built for large companies, oftentimes resulting in workers facing unaffordable premiums, or ineligibility due to part-time status,” Emily Williams Knight Ed.D., president and CEO of the Texas Restaurant Association, said. “We do not have time to wait for change; we need to create change so we can protect and grow our industry’s most valuable asset—our people. Thanks to our Teladoc partnership, every Texas restaurant can afford a solution that delivers unlimited virtual physical and mental healthcare visits to their team members and their entire household. The wellbeing of our foodservice community remains a top priority for the Texas Restaurant Association, and we will continue to create new ways to honor that commitment.”

Employees enrolled in HealthiestYou by Teladoc will be able to select from a comprehensive range of general and expert medical services, which includes mental health treatment. In 2021, 22.8% (57.8 million) people in the U.S. experienced a form of mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health.    

“The last three years of unprecedented challenges, triumphs, and anxiety have taken a toll on the wellbeing of everyone who calls our foodservice industry home,” Kelsey Erickson Streufert, chief public affairs officer of the Texas Restaurant Association, said. Accessing mental health support can cost hundreds of dollars, even with insurance. We’re proud to provide an alternative that was designed for our industry, ensuring employees, managers, and operators can see a mental health provider at the time they need service and not just when they can afford it.”

HealthiestYou by Teladoc is available to all members of the Texas Restaurant Association for a member-only price of $9 per household with no copays, deductibles, or coinsurance. Non-member foodservice businesses can also enroll their team members for $12 per household, a significant savings compared to the standard non-hospitality telehealth program prices of $49 per month plus additional visit fees. 

Learn more about all of the stackable tools and resources the TRA provides to the foodservice industry in its Member Benefits Center. To join the TRA and enroll in the program, click here