It’s May and that means Mental Health Awareness Month.
Whether you struggle with your own mental health, or a friend, co-worker, neighbor or family member does, it is something that touches everyone no matter who you are.
The Kaiser Family Foundation found that 90% of the public believes the U.S. is in a mental health crisis. And we have good reason to feel that way. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that in the U.S., 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 6 youth (ages 6-17) experience a mental health disorder each year. Worldwide, global rates of anxiety and depression alone increased by 25% during the first year of Covid, with no sign of reversing.
You may wonder why I’m telling you this.
Beyond caring about my own mental health and that of my kids, I also have my Stelter family—the 100+ staff members that are the backbone of The Stelter Company—to think about.
I care about their personal struggles because they are an extended part of my family, and I also care about how their mental health impacts the work we do with you.
Poor employee mental health can result in lost productivity, absenteeism and high turnover rates, among other things. This topic may be something to consider in your own office. Studies have shown that focusing on the well-being of your colleagues can benefit your team and your organization.
At Stelter, our employee’s mental health is a priority, and we continue to review our policies and make changes to strengthen the culture around it. Here are five steps we have recently taken.
1. Set the Tone
First, and (I believe) most importantly, we have a culture at Stelter where it is OK to talk about mental health and have authentic conversations about it. To show that we mean what we say, last May at an all-staff meeting, a Stelter colleague and I shared some of the mental health struggles we have faced and talked about our own coping strategies—be it taking a walk, using a breathing app or seeing a therapist.
2. Create Opportunities to Connect
Research has shown that feeling connected to others promotes positive mental health. Our various volunteer-led committees plan events where we can connect with one another, both in person and virtually. Yoga sessions, a bike ride around the city, breathing exercises, a gratitude challenge, wellness chats, painting, learning to cross-stitch, hand-lettering, and a plant propagation party were all on the calendar over the past year.
3. Make Resources Readily Available
Ensuring your employees have access to help when they need it is vital. Stelter employees have access to a Mental Health Toolkit on our internal website. It provides quick access to LinkedIn Learning courses to support well-being, links to outside resources and our Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP is a comprehensive program that offers counseling, financial consultation, legal consultation, life coaching and more—all at no cost to our staff.
4. No More Sick Time
A simple change to the name one of our policies helps set a different tone—sick time is now well time. Employees are encouraged to use this paid time off not only in the traditional sense to cover an illness but also for proactive ways to keep them healthy—physically and mentally.
5. Expand the Meaning of Wellness
While Stelter has had a wellness bonus for years, historically we focused on reimbursing staff for gym memberships. Three years ago, we changed the policy to include purchases made for anything related to physical, mental or financial well-being—recognizing that wellness comes in many forms. Yoga classes, breathing apps, therapeutic massage and nutrition counseling are just a few things that now qualify for the wellness bonus.
Take the Gratitude Challenge
The simple act of feeling gratitude has been shown to boost mental health—combatting stress, anxiety and depression. Sounds easy, right? Our staff was invited to participate in a 30 Days of Gratitude Challenge a few years ago. It’s surprising how performing one small task a day can begin to shift your mindset in a more positive direction. I invite you to take the challenge. Download the worksheet to get started today.
This month (and always), I hope you take steps to care for your own mental health and consider the well-being of those around you.