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Tips to promote and encourage mental health in the workplace

Ivana Markovic
Ivana Markovic
min read

As a company whose vision is to create one of the best workplaces, we have to be aware of our team’s needs and encourage their wellbeing. We’ve put into place various initiatives that promote work-life harmony and wellness. You can read more about those in the culture section of our blog.

But today, I want to spend some time discussing a specific priority of ours - mental health. On a personal note, this is a topic I am highly passionate about, as it has a high impact on our society. In addition, I have experienced mental health struggles in my personal life and have observed the need to de-stigmatize and promote mental health in our workplaces. In a fast-paced environment of the tech industry and with our high-performing teams, mental health needs to be prioritized and promoted at an organizational level.

This past March, we had our mental health month, an initiative our activity team puts together on an annual basis. It made me reflect on the importance of mental health and I wanted to share some of our thoughts and tips to inspire you towards action in your own organization.

Mental health as a priority

We can all say that mental health is important. I just have to scroll on LinkedIn, consult HBR or other content targeted to decision makers and HR professionals to see that. Recognizing the importance of mental health is key. But how do we go beyond saying that we care? As leaders in organizations, where humans spend the bulk of their waking hours, how can we contribute in the journey of better mental health?

This responsibility is what has pushed us to continue on our journey to incorporating mental health and proposing tools and initiatives to enable our team.

First step: align mental health with your vision, values and culture

To ensure you can truly prioritize mental health, you need to make sure that you can align it with your organization, and if not, ask yourself what needs to change to be able to do it. It’s important that it becomes a living and breathing part of your culture, otherwise, any initiatives you launch for mental health, might fall flat.

For us, one big component of our company vision is to create one of the best workplaces. We can’t strive to achieve this goal if we don’t focus on mental health. Mental health is aligned with our values of Simply put we care and Growing together is what matters most. That high-level focus on humans is reflected in our culture: the way our team supports each other, the way the organization supports individuals and provides them flexibility and benefits that can enable them to better take care of their mental health.

Ok I get it, but what concrete tips can you recommend?

Involve experts and build awareness

You don’t have to fear doing everything by yourself. You can leverage experts to enable your team, educate and drive awareness. Here are some things we’ve done.

  • Over the past few years, we’ve partnered with JF Ménard, mental performance coach of Olympic Athletes. JF organizes workshops for our team to empower them and allow them to navigate the complexities of today’s world.
  • We’ve brought psychologists to provide the technical knowledge about burnout, depression, anxiety. These custom sessions not only serve to educate our team, but also provide concrete steps of what someone can do if they need help.
  • Our insurance and telemedicine Maple Health providers offer access to professionals that can help our team and their families.

Structure your benefits and flexibility with mental health in mind

We are always testing and trying different benefits, and we always consider their impact on serving as a tool for our company to enable and promote mental health. We are experimenting and open to feedback from our team. While education is an important part, we also as organizations need to make sure we are giving our team the time and resources to prioritize mental health.

  • We offer paid sabbaticals, through our Dreams Come True program
  • We have a work from anywhere plan that can offer flexibility especially for those dealing with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
  • Ton of flexibility with our work and time off
  • We’ve piloted a 4-day work initiative
  • Our secure cockpit ensures we provide our team the space and environment to have moments of highly focused work, so that they can finish their priorities without bringing work in the after-hours.

Incorporate mental health in your team building and culture

Our activities team organizes a variety of activities that promote team building. But it’s also important to integrate mental health in those. Here are some things we’ve tried in the past:

  • Fitness and yoga classes. On top of our regularly scheduled activities, we also offer our team the Bright platform where they have access to remote fitness and wellbeing classes at any time.
  • Group meditation, mindfulness and breathing techniques. We’ve experienced the meditation practice to bring awareness to tools that can be used to take care of ourselves.
  • Communication in the daily newsletter and training in our lunch & learn. Just as we train our team on different topics that can make them more efficient, we also use our regular communication channels to emphasize the importance of mental health.

Tools to continue exploring this topic

To finish this blog post, I want to share some of my favourite resources to continue exploring the topic of mental health:

  • The Anxious Achiever Podcast - Hosted by Morra Aarons-Mele, this podcast helps us rethink mental health and work. I love the discussions with business leaders and the variety of topics they cover.
  • The Happiness Lab Podcast - Hosted by Dr. Laurie Santos from Yale. A great psychology driven podcast that covers what impacts our happiness.
  • Health topic in HBR - A wide variety of specific articles to help you navigate this topic.

If you want to learn more about this subject, we provide further information about our workplace strategies for physical and mental health in our blog. I would love to hear more about what you do in your organizations to promote mental health. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and if you have any questions, reach out to us!

Photo credit: Milad B. Fakirian.

Did this article start to give you some ideas? We’d love to work with you! Get in touch and let’s discover what we can do together.

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