How to Support Mental Health with Employee Training and Development
Did you know? Since 1949, in the United States has observed Mental Health Awareness Month in May. The stated goal is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding behavioral health issues, as well as to highlight the ways in which mental health care affects all of us.
At AllenComm, we’ve been sharing insights about how mental healthcare impacts our workforce for some time now. We know that much can be done to support individuals and organizations through employee training and development initiatives that promote wellness in the workplace. We’ve made it our mission to create impactful learning and training solutions that support people and help organizations meet their objectives.
Mental health initiatives certainly have a role to play in building successful teams and workplaces. Many studies have shown that productivity falls when employees are dealing with mental health issues. During the pandemic, the impact of Covid-19 underlined how mental health impacts the workplace – even when the workplace is virtual. In response, we provided rapid response migration of learning to meet the need of newly virtual classrooms and remote work environments. In the world post-pandemic, we continue to share insights to help organizations create equitable workspaces, better meet the needs of a hybrid workforce, and improve workplace performance through the positive impacts of a culture of learning.
So, based on our experience, what can be done through learning and training development initiatives to support the mental health of employees? Here are four major steps we recommend as learning professionals.
Mental Health through Employee Training and Development
- Provide training programs. Offer employees learning experiences to help them understand mental health subjects. For example, your employees could receive basic supportive information and training to help them to identify potential mental health issues in teammates. Such training should also provide information on how to respond constructively to employees that show signs they might be in need of mental health support or services. If your organization has an official mental health plan and services available for employees, training could help management know how to navigate those services and help employees access them.
- Use learning experiences to cultivate interpersonal skills. This might look like providing soft skills and leadership training for management as part of their career development. Encourage coaching, collaboration, and mentorship through development. At the very least, your managers should have training modules provided to help them be more thoughtful around interactions in the workplace, to alleviate pressures and avoid exacerbating underlying mental health challenges.
- Make use of training solutions that support flexibility and fluid, remote work environments. For example, provide on-the-job resources as part of training; use video and asynchronous learning to support self-directed learning; and incorporate video instructor-led training (VILT). These modalities encourage employees to take ownership over their training and working schedule, which leads to greater levels of satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty to their organization.
- Create a culture of collaborative learning and career development. Employees that have opportunities for growth are more productive, motivated, and positive about potential within a workplace. Set aside time for learning to demonstrate commitment. Culture matters when building an environment that supports mental health.
Finally, recognize that adding mental health awareness training to your existing offerings is another way to make an impact. You can add mental health training curriculum resources to onboarding training, leadership development courses, and other corporate training. Just providing the information will demonstrate your commitment, building confidence in your workplace as the subject is destigmatized and employees develop the interpersonal skills to recognize and manage mental wellness issues.