A mental health employee resource group (ERG) is an opportunity for employees passionate about mental health to volunteer for a leadership position that lets them represent their colleagues to leadership. If you want to change how your workplace addresses mental health, consider establishing a mental health team, taskforce, workgroup, or ERG to identify and address concerns with workplace culture and promote mental health awareness, education, and available resources to peers. ERGs are also formed to address topics regarding BIPOC, AAPI, and LGBTQ+ communities, military and veterans, working parents, caregivers, mental health, neurodiversity, and disability.
The team should include members with differing perspectives in the workplace, such as managers, front-line workers, HR, executive leadership, and the diversity, equity, and inclusion coordinator. Smaller employers may need to designate only one person to be a wellness champion or ambassador. Leadership can support or contribute to empowering worker-led resource groups, including offering financial support, participating as a group member, and empowering workers to improve workplace culture.
How leaders can empower worker-led resource groups
- Hire a salaried individual, team, or department to lead worker well-being initiatives
- Provide an annual or monthly budget or stipend
- Allocate work hours for staff to discuss and plan wellness initiatives
- Share openly about their lived experiences with mental health or substance use recovery
- Serve as a committee liaison or sponsor
- Offer guidance and participate in initiatives
- Encourage managers and workers to participate in employee resource groups
- Include workers in shared decision-making processes
- Execute a process for workers to provide input on culture
Workers who wish to start their own group or participate in an existing mental health ERG can use the items in this toolkit to support their efforts, such as building the case to leadership on why workplace mental health is important; planning the calendar year with mental health observances in mind; learning tips on how to plan wellness events; spreading mental health awareness with an internal email or e-newsletter article; and sharing or displaying digital and printable posters and postcards that encourage employees to take an anonymous and confidential online mental health screening.