In recent years, many organizational leaders have increasingly prioritized workplace mental health. However, 4 in 5 workers still report untenable rates of stress, burnout, and mental health concerns, according to MHA’s Mind the Workplace 2022 Report. Much work still needs to be done to support workers, especially for employers not considering mental health. Fortunately, workers can serve as mental health advocates and affect change (and have a history of doing so) at the grassroots level.
If leadership is not receptive or engaged in improving workplace mental health, here are five actions workers can take to draft a support case:
1. Identify the objectives.
Whether your goal is to serve as the liaison between staff and leadership, provide input on policy or program changes that impact worker well-being, or reduce stigma and educate staff about mental health and resources, identify the objectives you hope to accomplish as a mental health advocate at work.
2. Provide the background.
Countless research demonstrates the massive return of investing in worker mental health. Employers prioritizing mental health see its positive impact on employee retention, engagement, and health care costs. Put workplace mental health statistics into perspective for your employer by crunching the numbers. You can estimate the cost of mental health conditions in the workplace using the American Psychological Association Foundation’s Depression Calculator or the National Safety Council’s Mental Health Cost Calculator.
3. Outline the proposed activities.
As a mental health advocate, be specific and realistic about your proposed activities to achieve your objectives. The activities you choose should reflect workers’ wellness needs, consider available resources, be culturally responsive, and be replicable across departments or job functions. Examples include establishing a mental health employee resource group (ERG), planning an awareness campaign, coordinating a wellness event or speaking engagement, executing a worker well-being survey, or participating in MHA’s Bell Seal national certification program.
4. Request specific support from leadership.
Describe in detail what type of support you need from leadership to execute your proposed activities and accomplish your goals. You might ask for leadership sponsorship or participation, specific allocated work hours to attend to the activities, a budget to cover the expenses of mental health-related events, or a clear procedure to provide feedback to leadership.
5. Discuss the potential impact.
Both employers and employees receive a host of benefits from a workplace that supports mental health. Employees are happier, more productive, and more loyal. Employers attract and retain employees and, ultimately, improve overall operations. Share how your efforts would contribute to a positive change within your workplace, including how they could be measured for both employer and employee satisfaction.
Find a sample support case letter to leadership in MHA’s first-ever Workplace Mental Health Toolkit: Creating a Culture of Support and Well-being, a guide to help organizations develop the foundation for a mentally healthy workplace. The toolkit also prepares employers for MHA’s Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health 2023-23 application cycle that is now open.