It's Mental Health Awareness Month: 8 ways leaders are supporting employee mental health

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are eight ways hospital leaders can support their staff's mental health, according to a May 24 article by CNBC.

The pandemic exacerbated the emotional toll on hospital team members, with some experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder or leaving the medical field for good.

Eight ways hospital leaders can support mental health: 

1. Give employees more off time.
A foundational aspect of encouraging employees to focus on their well-being is having the time to do so. Accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is giving its workers time back in their day by shortening meetings by 25 percent. They also blocked out the time after 12 p.m. on Fridays so staff can take time off or work uninterrupted, without worrying about missing a meeting or deadline. Lastly, PwC increased the number of paid days off, such as the Fridays before Memorial Day and Labor Day.

2. Giving vacation bonuses.
PwC is offering employees a $250 vacation bonus to those who take 40 consecutive hours of vacation at a time, up to once per quarter. Team members at the firm have wellness objectives in performance goals to build in accountability.

3. Providing on-demand resources.
Software company Zendesk partnered with mental health benefits provider Modern Health starting in May 2020 to offer accessible resources such as therapy to its staff. Zendesk saw 25 percent global usage among employees within the first week and that engagement has held strong, said Zendesk director of global benefits Evangeline Mendiola.

4. Extending benefits to households.
Consulting firm EY boosted its mental health offerings to 25 sessions for employees and their households at no cost. "We want to recognize that if you're living with a family member experiencing significant distress who may not have coverage of their own, that impacts you too," said Mike Weiner, a mental health clinician and EY Assist leader.

5. Ensuring resources are inclusive.
It may be important to employees seeking mental healthcare that their provider reflects their unique backgrounds, said Nikole Benders-Hadi, MD, a psychiatrist and director of behavioral health at Doctor On Demand. At Doctor On Demand, more than 60 percent of clinicians are women, 43 percent are nonwhite ethnic minorities, 21 percent are Black and 20 percent are LGBTQ+, she said.

6. Additional financial support.
At Calm, a meditation app provider, employees get things like a monthly wellness stipend to be used on services like therapy, gym memberships, nutrition programs or massages. They also get phone and internet reimbursement and a home office stipend.

7. Offering employee support.
Through San Francisco-based Modern Health, which provides virtual coaches, Zendesk employees take part in community circles, some of which focus on destigmatizing mental health in the workplace. Others may center on conversations about challenges like coping with political and social unrest around elections or having family members in India during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

8. Destigmatizing mental health at work.
Software company SAP conducted a study in 2019 and found that workers overwhelmingly wanted to discuss mental health challenges as they related to work, but were too scared to do so. In 2020, SAP made an effort to begin destigmatizing mental health discussions in the workplace by having leaders at all levels talk about it. 

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