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  • Writer's pictureSara Zellner

Bolster Employees' Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic and Beyond

Covid-19 has elevated not only employees’ physical health issues to the forefront of challenges for businesses, but has also highlighted issues with employees’ mental health. Employees are fearful of contracting the virus at work, dealing with job uncertainty, and adjusting to frequently burdensome situations that have accompanied the shift to remote working.

These mental health challenges influence a person’s physical health, which has workplace implications. Employee absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover are some of the difficulties employers face regarding mental health and substance use issues.

Employers may incur greater financial costs as a consequence of having workers with mental health and substance use issues. Companies’ mental health expenses have risen more than 10% annually over the past several years compared with increases of 5% for other medical costs. A recent survey also reports that only 23% of employees use their employer-sponsored health plans or well-being programs for treatment to care for mental health or substance use issues.

The Importance of Mental Health Training in the Workplace

For these reasons, it is essential to train your employees to recognize mental health and substance use issues in the workplace and provide them with resources to seek care or help fellow coworkers seek care.

Mental health training can create better health for employees overall. Employees tend to be physically healthier when employers help improve the mental health of their employees.

Workplace mental health training informs employees about the range of mental health and substance use issues and demonstrates how these issues show up the workplace. Training furnishes employees with resources to obtain help; it does not teach employees how to diagnose and treat such problems.

Workplace mental health training can be administered through a variety of sources. Nonprofit organizations in the mental health space and employer assistance programs develop and offer such services. Companies may also design their own mental health training to implement internally.

How to Select a Workplace Mental Health Training

Below are key questions that your company should consider when selecting a workplace mental health training program:

  • What are your goals regarding workplace mental health training?

  • What are the most pressing mental health and substance use issues in your workplace that you want employees to learn about and address?

  • How much of your budget can you dedicate to workplace mental health training?

  • Do you want to train all employees in workplace mental health or only those who have more frequent workplace interactions regarding mental health (e.g., human resources staff and workplace managers)?

  • How much time do you want your employees to devote to workplace mental health training?

  • Do you want employees to be trained online, in-person, or through both methods?

For more details about workplace mental health training and case studies that showcase how companies have designed and delivered such programs, download our report, “Cultivating Wellness: Mental Health Training in the Workplace.”

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