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3 ways you can advocate for your employees’ mental health

Hong Kong’s frenetic work culture is not a secret, but poor workplace mental health tends to be. Despite the fact that an estimated 1 in 7 people in the SAR will experience a common mental disorder at any given time, mental health is a highly stigmatized issue in the workplace and seeking help is often perceived as a sign of weakness. As suffering in silence doesn’t help anyone – neither employees, employers, or society at large – this Pacific Prime Hong Kong article gives you three ways to advocate for your employees’ mental health and create a positive workplace culture as a result. 

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1. Destigmatize mental health in the workplace

In the workplace, there’s an unspoken rule: keep emotions out of the workplace. But employees are humans at the end of the day and can’t magically forget their issues the minute they clock into work. Perhaps a working mum is facing separation anxiety from her newborn? Or a Gen Z’er is struggling to keep up with student loan repayments? What about someone who is suffering from relationship issues, substance abuse, and spiralling on the inside? Or maybe it’s the work culture that’s causing excessive stress?

Expecting your employees to keep all of their emotions bottled up inside is unhealthy and leads to a toxic workplace environment. What’s more, employees will eventually crack as they can’t keep this facade going on forever. Whether it’s through absenteeism or presenteeism, you’ll likely see their productivity and performance decline. The solution isn’t always to ask your employees to resign, as a high turnover rate can also negatively impact your organization’s bottom line and reputation. 

So, what is an employer to do? The first step to dealing with employee mental health issues in the workplace is to recognize that emotions are the core of employees’ state of mind, which has a direct spillover effect on their productivity and performance. As such, don’t try to stifle emotions or brush aside poor mental health. Instead, aim to destigmatize mental health in the workplace through policies and initiatives such as these:

  • Adopting an open-door policy that’s free from judgment, and leading your organization with empathy
  • Understanding the signs of poor mental health so you know what to look out for in struggling employees
  • Training managers on how to conduct employee check-ins in a sensitive and effective manner
  • Changing the tone of how people in the organization discuss mental health, and making mental health a regular part of communications 
  • And more.

2. Create an environment that is conducive to discussions 

Even after you destigmatize mental health in the workplace and implement the above policies and initiatives, it’s not always the case that you’ll be able to help struggling employees. You need to be aware that prioritizing mental health is an on-going process and not a one-time event. You can’t expect change by simply paying lip-service to mental health. As such, focus on creating an environment that’s conducive to discussions about mental health. Here are some ways you can get the conversation going:

  • Encouraging leaders and managers to initiative conversations (either on social media platforms like LinkedIn or in-person at the office) about their own challenges
  • Bringing in guest speakers and mental health experts to run workshops on various mental health topics 
  • Utilizing company newsletters to bring awareness to mental health topics
  • Investing in diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives to create a welcoming environment for all
  • And more.

Ideas for diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives 

If you’re looking to implement diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives, these ones are a good place to start:

3. Implement mental health support and benefits 

Finally, don’t just talk the talk. You also have to walk the walk. Rather than be reactive, be proactive and consider mental health support and benefits you can offer employees in order to enhance their mental health. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the mental health challenges on employees, did you know that 70%of employers have seen an increase in the utilization of their Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)? You could look into offerings such as:

  • Health insurance with mental health coverage
  • Mental health benefits such as EAPs
  • Increased sick and mental health days 
  • And more.

In addition to this, you can also go a step further to advocate for your employees’ mental health by:

  • Reaching out to your company’s insurance broker or company to find out more about the EAPs that’s included in the insurance package or seeking recommendations on EAP providers 
  • Encouraging employees to take breaks during their work days such as taking a walk, going for a cup of coffee, doing desk-based stretches and exercise, as well as practicing meditation/mindfulness 
  • Offering flexible working arrangements to help employees achieve a better work-life balance
  • And more. 

Dive into all things employee benefits with Pacific Prime Hong Kong

As a global health insurance brokerage and employee benefits specialist, Pacific Prime Hong Kong has over two decades of experience helping organizations of all sizes and industries design and implement employee benefits and group health insurance plans. We utilize a tailored, technology-driven approach to ensure that your organizational goals are met, and are up to date with the latest industry trends and government regulations. 

To learn more about all things employee benefits, check out our FREE Global Employee Benefits Trends Report 2021 where we explore the biggest trends in the sector such as mental health support, diversity and inclusion goals, and so much more! Alternatively, you’re also more than welcome to get in touch with an employee benefits expert from our corporate team for an initial consultation and demo of our technology.

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Content Creator at Pacific Prime Hong Kong
Suphanida aims to demystify the world of insurance by creating informative and engaging content. As a wordsmith, she spends the majority of her day writing and editing website content, blog posts, in-depth guides, and more.

Outside of work, Suphanida enjoys traveling to new places and immersing herself in different cultures.