Policy in Practice: How Companies Can Address Mental Health

Clare Miller

Clare Miller
Director, Partnership for Workplace Mental Health

Employers who seek to address mental health issues in the workplace have a daunting task. After all, a comprehensive mental health workplace program could include the following:

  • developing a mental health policy that complies with federal and state law
  • implementing an employee assistance program
  • training managers to recognize mental illness and make referrals
  • offering mental health wellness programs, such as stress reduction and mental health awareness trainings and mental health screening tools
  • supporting employees’ health care needs, including providing adequate health insurance and allowing treatment-related time off
  • addressing employees’ concerns about their co-workers, including providing support services in the event of a mental health-related emergency or death (e.g., attempted or completed suicide)
  • communicating with employees about mental health to allay their concerns about job loss, stigma, etc., and encourage them to get help

The good news is that there are a number of programs and resources to help employers address their workplace mental health needs. Today, we look at two companies that have successfully introduced mental health programs, and Clare Miller shares information about Right Direction, a new program from The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health and Employers Health.

How Two Companies Have Addressed Mental Health

In Tuesday’s post, I described why mental health matters to employers and gave an example about how one company—Chesapeake Energy Corporation—has taken action to address mental health. Chesapeake’s comprehensive strategy includes enhanced mental health benefits, supportive education, and the addition of early identification and referral components to their programs. A cornerstone of their program is their award-winning communications campaign called “Your Life Matters.” Chesapeake’s campaign began with a video directly from their CEO to show his support for the program and encourage employees to take advantage of its offerings.

Another terrific employer example is H-E-B, a large food chain, which created a healthy culture through a range of programs, including wellness and mental health benefits. H-E-B also tackled disability by encouraging appropriate treatment and integrating the employee assistance program and disability management. Read more about H-E-B and Chesapeake Energy Corporation in the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health’s quarterly publication.

The Right Direction
Right Direction bear

The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health in collaboration with Employers Health has launched a unique educational workplace initiative to help decrease stigma associated with depression, which is a leading cause of lost productivity. The Right Direction initiative is designed to help motivate employees and their families to seek help when needed, and to provide employers with appropriate support, tools, and resources.

The Right Direction website serves as the employee portal, offering educational information on common symptoms of workplace depression, a depression screening tool, resources for how to talk about mental health with family, how to talk with employers about job accommodations, and additional resources outside the workplace to access help.

The site includes information about depression in the workplace and resources needed to combat this growing area of concern. Employers can request a free employer toolkit, called a Field Guide, with all of the materials they need to implement an awareness program. Each Field Guide includes a step-by-step implementation plan, slide decks to share the business case with the C-suite, and educational presentations, as well as corresponding promotional resources, such as posters, intranet copy, and template materials that can be developed into TV slides. Employers can request a hardcopy toolkit by emailing mhw@psych.org. Kits are also available for download.

We invite you to join us and take a step in the right direction to support employees in an effort to better overall health and productivity.

What You Can Do
Learn more about what employers are doing (better yet, subscribe to the Partnership’s mailing list to stay on top of what employers are doing to improve mental health.)

Your Turn
Is your company doing something positive for employee mental health? Comment below or share it with the Partnership so we can help spread the word!

Up Next:

Tune in tomorrow as Care for Your Mind highlights other programs and resources for employers looking to address mental health in their workplace.

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