To improve employee well-being, companies need to be intentional about how to approach mental health in the workplace beyond basic benefits and compliance. The Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) provides a toolkit to help employers create an initial framework for a mental health strategy built around the “4 A’s”: Awareness, Accommodations, Assistance, and Access.
- Awareness: Build awareness and a supportive culture by conducting mental health training, anti-stigma campaigns, and informing all employees of available resources.
- Accommodations: Make it simple for employees to request and use reasonable accommodations and other workplace supports, such as adjustments or modifications that enable people with mental health conditions to perform the essential functions of a job efficiently and productively.
- Assistance: Promote the services available to assist employees, such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), stress management training, or other supports. In addition to increased employee productivity, the benefits of EAPs include reduced medical costs, turnover, and absences.
- Access: Ensure access to mental health services by assessing the specific mental health benefits covered by your health insurance providers, including treatment for substance use disorders.
Building a mental health strategy based on the “4 A’s” is an important first step, but a company must consider how to best assess its employees’ needs and incorporate solutions to address them. One option may be to administer an anonymous and confidential employee survey to identify the issues that impact their performance such as stress, burnout, or conflict with coworkers. In addition, consider including questions about communication, managerial, and programmatic preferences.
Once you have identified the needs of employees, establish the goals, action items, and measures for each of the “4 A’s” as you create a mental health strategy. The issues and action items you decide to include in your mental health strategy will ultimately depend on the needs and capacity of your company.