How to Make Emotional Wellness a Part of Your DEI Strategy
How are you doing? How are you really doing?
A lot has happened over the past couple of years, and many of us are not okay. Between political and social unrest, a global pandemic, and now the war in Ukraine, it is only natural that we’ve been preoccupied.
And while this has many personal implications, our emotional wellness also extends into the workplace. According to a study by Verizon Media, 93% of employers agreed that mental health was hampering company-wide productivity; meanwhile, only one-quarter to one-third of managers said they felt prepared to handle their employees’ emotional wellness needs.
Though organizations have the best of intentions around mental health, they do not always have the practical skills to effectively manage employee issues. Because employers haven’t developed a common language around emotional wellness in the workplace, it is possible that they are avoiding key conversations around it.
Only 34% of employees – according to a report by Mental Health America – say that their company’s leadership speaks openly about mental health. And only three in five employees would agree that their manager cares about their emotional well-being. By addressing common root causes of mental health issues through education, organizations can empower managers and employees to turn this conversation around.
Emotional Wellness and the Importance of Mental Health Compliance
When organizations think about compliance training, they often zero in on legal compliance initiatives or specific workplace safety training. Compliance training on mental health issues may fall by the wayside.
This, despite the fact that:
- 550 million workdays are lost each year due to stress
- 29% of employees describe themselves as depressed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- Harassment and bullying at work are commonly reported problems, and can have a substantial adverse impact on mental health
Understanding how to manage stress on your team and educating your entire organization on mental health best practices is one important way to improve morale and make your workplace a safe, welcoming place for all employees.
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The Link Between Mental Health, Emotional Wellness, and DEI
A major contributing factor to mental health in the workplace is diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). DEI is all about changing the mindset of your organization to transform the way you work together.
A survey by McKinsey & Company found that a majority of employees have considered the inclusiveness of companies when making career decisions. Not only that, but employers benefit from supporting mental health at work. Workers who felt supported with their mental health overall were 26% less likely to report at least one symptom of a mental health condition in the past year.
Initiatives that support DEI can also support mental health – and vice versa.
Let’s use demographics as an example. Demographics play a strong role in workplace mental health, with younger workers and historically underrepresented groups still struggling the most.
Dan Gillison, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), said: “The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored. The disparity in access to mental health care in communities of color cannot be ignored. The inequality and lack of cultural competency in mental health treatment cannot be ignored.”
A strong DEI program means that your entire team is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. It ensures that they can show up at work every day as the most authentic version of themselves. It enables a shared mindset and serves as a cultural foundation for your work environment.
Mental Health Awareness Month at Skillsoft
May is Mental Health Awareness month. This year’s theme is “Back to Basics,” and the focus is on providing foundational knowledge about mental health. Here are the three important decisions that we’ve relied on at Skillsoft to help us navigate emotional wellness issues:
- Access to Information: In order to drive demonstrable behavioral changes, ensure that all your employees have access to both mental health and diversity and inclusion resources and trainings.
- Investment in DEI initiatives: Underrepresented populations experience barriers to care that can be removed with an investment in DEI initiatives to support mental health and emotional wellness.
- Support for More Sustainable Ways of Working: In order to best support your remote teams, offer employees tips on managing stress, advise them around home office ergonomics, and educate them on common remote/hybrid work issues – such as harassment and bullying – that they may face.
And if you don’t know where to start, Skillsoft’s virtual book club – OFF THE SHELF – is featuring a bookshelf of resources that can be used to improve mental wellness, mindfulness, resiliency, and overall wellbeing throughout the month of May. Check out the selection on mental health and share with your team!
Changing your approach to Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace
While it is not easy to create fundamental cultural change, there are two key questions that your organization can ask to support mental health awareness through training.
- Who needs training? Identify the specific roles within your organization that are associated with high stress levels and develop a succinct compliance training curriculum tailored to those positions.
- What do they need to know? Implement a compliance training curriculum that will help to normalize mental health issues and provide a safe space to talk about DEI initiatives. Getting everyone within your organization on the same page about these key issues is a good way to create shared understanding of your organization’s goals and expectations.
Skillsoft has more than 1,000 environmental, health, and safety (EHS) courses in 15+ languages, including about topics around mental health including Compliance Brief: Mental Health and COVID-19 and First Aid: Mental Health Awareness, as well as an extensive library of DEI courses.