“Check on your strong friends” is a phrase known widely across the internet and whose meaning lends itself to those who seem to handle everything very well. Often those who take life’s ups and downs in stride are not checked on as much as those who seem to be more visually having a hard time.
The phrase went viral in 2017 after the world lost some well-known public figures, and then local stories started to arise more and more bringing more awareness to this topic. The phrase highlights that people who seem put together on the outside may actually be breaking and screaming in the inside. This phrase is an effort to break the stigma of asking for help and the stigma of showing weakness, especially in times of crisis.
“Check on your strong friends” translates across the board in both personal and professional relationships. When technicians are going on jobs, depending on the sector of the Restoration and Remediation industry, they aren’t always as simple as get it done and leave. Being the person whose job is to restore another’s life after a tragic incident of any sort can sometimes take a toll leading to quiet suffering.
Over the past three years, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many mental health effects such as anxiety and depression and, in some cases, suicide. Being that the restoration industry is considered essential in many aspects, it is important to take personal, professional and policy measures to address and or help prevent these circumstances.
This is why the culture of wellness at the workplace is so important, and checking on those who handle the day-to-day tasks and jobs that could at times cause mental distress is essential to a well-working company. As we approach Mental Health Awareness month, I encourage companies to bring awareness, and check on our coworkers and employees.
Below are nine of Total Wellness Health’s 21 simple yet effective ways to bring mental health awareness into the workplace to destigmatize the issue and encourage workers to get the help they may need.
1. Host a Stress Reduction Workshop
Stress hormones trigger the body’s “fight or flight response,” which, when left untreated, can cause chronic physical and emotional issues. Stress can trigger health woes that include everything from headaches to heartburn and insomnia to irritability. Consider having your benefits director host a stress-reducing activity workshop this month. Your staff will benefit from knowing there are healthy ways to handle stress!
2. Create an Interactive Bulletin Board
Bulletin boards in the workplace don’t need to be boring. Get creative with your hallway bulletins by turning them into an engaging Mental Health Awareness Month activity. You can print resources, add fact sheets, and post inspirational quotes to the boards. Additionally, you can pose questions that require employees to write their thoughts right on the board. Some ideas of questions to include: “What made you smile today?” or “What are you grateful for?” or “What’s your favorite activity to blow off steam?”
3. Get Physical
Host a karate instructor to come on site for the day. Throughout the day, have the instructor offer mini lessons for individuals and/or group classes. Physical sports like karate can build confidence and strength, along with a new exercise routine. If they can, see if the instructor will supply small wood boards for a “breaking boards event” that can easily be a confidence training exercise for your team members.
4. Have a Well-Being Day
Host a day dedicated to well-being activities and exploration. You can keep it as simple as a mini wellness benefits review with a light breakfast and equally light workday. Or, have a variety of well-being stations set up for your staff. A hydration station with fruit-infused water, a coloring book station, a quiet meditation area, and an area for stretching are all easy ideas for a simple yet refreshing well-being day.
5. Create a Different Kind of Escape Room
Break rooms are a must for escaping work. Aside from your typical kitchen break room setup, consider making a different kind of escape room for employees. Add meditation pillows, bean bags, a diffuser, etc. in a space where employees can go for a restorative moment of quiet. Reflection and meditation are perfect Mental Health Awareness Month activities that can bring peace in as little as a few minutes.
6. Host a Tea/Coffee Event
Bring a mental health advocate in for a morning tea or coffee event. Host a healthy breakfast and invite your staff to come in and listen to a local psychologist or mental health professional. They can host a Q-and-A session about stress, anxiety, or any number of mental health topics. Or, ask for a specific theme to be covered like stress management techniques or anxiety-reducing activities.
7. Have an Outdoor Event Day
Research proves that outdoor green spaces are good for mental health. Those who spend time outdoors will find they have reduced stress, anxiety, and depression. On a Friday, consider hosting a special event like an outdoor field day. Set up a variety of team-building activities— like hula hoop contests, egg races, and water balloon tosses — to generate laughs and encourage physical movement.
8. Discuss Mental Health
Mental health discussions aren’t only reserved for therapy offices. When leadership asks questions beyond, “Hi, how are you?” it starts a different dialogue. Questions like, “How are you feeling today?” or “How have you been spending your time?” are great ways to open up windows to mental health discussions.
If you’re still feeling resistance from your employees to have open mental health discussions, share the Empower Work resource. It provides confidential and immediate support for work challenges via web chat or texting. Best of all, it’s free!
9. Share Screening Tools
Employees can’t get the appropriate professional help if they don’t know they have a problem. Consider sharing mental health screening tools via email, bulletin boards, and team meetings to actively promote mental health awareness. Mental Health America has a series of free mental health tests that can be taken confidentially.
I hope this was able to help kick-start initiatives for companies that don’t currently have anything in place for this topic, or give new ideas to those who do. Stay safe and caring for one another.