How Can County Governments Help Support Employee Mental Health?

torso of a woman with long hair wearing a shirt that says "mental health matters"The withdraw of gymnastics great Simone Biles from the team and individual all around competitions at the Tokyo Olympics, as well as the withdraw of tennis star Naomi Osaka from the French Open and Wimbledon Championship has ignited a national conversation about mental health not just in sports, but at work in general.

Workers at all levels and in all fields face work-related stress and anxiety. They also bring with them to work underlying mental health conditions and stresses at home. Additionally, the stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have exacerbated many mental health conditions, while at the same time forcing changes to traditional in-person treatment or making treatment more difficult to access.

The Harvard Business Review recently published a round up of articles from their archive for both individuals and managers about how to better address mental health issues at work and support employees.

According to the article:

Surveys show employees want to work at a company whose culture supports mental health; in fact, it’s becoming one of the most-requested benefits in the wake of the pandemic. This is especially true for young workers: In a recent Deloitte survey of more than 27,000 Millennials and GenZers around the world, nearly half ranked mental health as their first or second priority.

The Society for Human Resources Management also offers a comprehensive group of resources on its website, including information about how to make accommodations for mental health disorders under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

County governments are encouraged to start or enhance employee assistance programs, critical incident stress management programs, and provide training to managers on how to support employees struggling with their mental health. County government health insurance providers often have a variety of resources available to help support such efforts.

Developing an anti stigma internal culture is also an important part of helping workers feel safe asking their employer for help. The National Alliance on Mental Illness encourages employers to take the StigmaFree Company Pledge.

The Mental Health Association of Maryland provides Mental Health First Aid® Maryland, a public education national certification course designed to teach individuals, professionals, businesses, and community members the skills necessary to respond with care and genuine support to an individual experiencing a mental health or substance use concern or crisis.

Many local school systems, health departments, and social services departments also have staff who are certified Mental Health First Aid trainers who can provide services to county governments free of charge.