It comes as no surprise that mental health is at the forefront of many recent conversations, especially in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Countless companies scrambled to embrace the new remote work environment last year. But in the wake of the transition, many employees experienced enough stress to significantly impact their mental health then didn’t receive the support they needed. Though a stigma currently remains around mental health conversations in the workplace, it’s now a topic more critical than ever to discuss.
As Mental Health Awareness Month comes to an end, our team at FormAssembly is exploring impactful ways to promote mental health in the workplace. In doing so, we reached out to one of our customers, The Trevor Project, as well as our own Talent and Culture team.
Encourage flexibility and understanding
Offering flexibility in the workplace, such as the option to work from home and the ability to shift working hours to accommodate work-life balance, may help employees manage and improve their mental health. It’s also important to encourage daily self-care habits such as taking guilt-free mental breaks during the day while understanding each individual’s unique life circumstances.
“We regularly encourage our employees to work when they work best, and to be tuned into their own peaks and valleys of productivity,” said Joey Owens-Barham, Director of Talent & Culture at FormAssembly.
Provide mental health resources
Organizations have the power to be directly involved in improving workplace mental health by instilling specific policies and offering certain benefits. As a whole, an organization should prioritize destigmatizing mental health, while encouraging employees to seek help when necessary. It’s important to provide mental health resources for employees as well, such as employee assistance programs (EAP), mental health days, mental health training sessions, wellness events, and complimentary therapy sessions.
“For June, we are launching a new partnership with licensed therapists (via Savor Lining) to lead weekly calls around mental health fitness and self care. This is just the beginning for new initiatives we can introduce to further value and support the wellbeing of our teams,” Owens-Barham said.
Create a safe, affirming environment
Despite significant progress toward providing affirming work environments, many employees still struggle to feel a sense of inclusion in the workplace. Organizations should start or continue to promote equality and safety for all team members. This not only builds trust and respect, but helps employees live without fear of discrimination.
John Callery, Vice President of Technology at The Trevor Project, shared the following advice about how to promote mental health in the workplace, specifically as it pertains to LGBTQ coworkers or employees:
Educate on the basics of LGBTQ identity
Providing education on LGBTQ identity is a necessary step in helping promote a positive work environment and raising mental health awareness. For organizations, Callery recommends starting with organization-wide diversity and inclusion training that are LGBTQ-inclusive. This education can improve overall understanding and set expectations for team members. “It can be tough for LGBTQ people to constantly educate others or be subjected to their curiosity,” Callery said. “On the individual level, one of the best ways to be an ally is to educate yourself on the basics of LGBTQ identity, so you can better support the LGBTQ people in your life.”
Put LGBTQ-affirming policies in place
Creating mental health awareness in the workplace doesn’t have to stop with a positive company culture. Organizations can implement LGBTQ-affirming policies, such as installing gender-inclusive bathrooms to promote inclusivity. Callery also encourages organizations to ensure their health care plan is LGBTQ-inclusive, especially for employees who are transgender or nonbinary, and invest in LGBTQ-specific employee resources.
Recent research by The Trevor Project reported that in the past year, LGBTQ youth in an LGBTQ-affirming workplace had 13% reduced odds of reporting a suicide attempt. However, only 36% of LGBTQ youth described their workplace as LGBTQ-affirming.
Begin by establishing the practice of team members sharing their pronouns at the beginning of a meeting and/or in their email signature. Callery also encourages organizations to celebrate occasions that are important to the LGBTQ community, including Transgender Day of Visibility, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and Pride Month. And when you witness harassment and injustice, intervene! Creating a safe and affirming work culture showcases that a company is aware, welcoming, and supportive of their LGTBQ team members.
The Trevor Project + FormAssembly
The Trevor Project leverages FormAssembly to streamline operations and data collection with dynamic forms and surveys across numerous functions, including crisis services, fundraising, the volunteer experience, and technology. Notably, they use FormAssembly to power their youth satisfaction survey and volunteer counselor application form.
With FormAssembly, the organization is able to capture direct feedback from the individuals who engage with their services. This enables the team to measure success, gather data, and continuously improve their services.
The Trevor Project’s FormAssembly-based volunteer counselor application form has collected thousands of applicants in the past year alone and is seamlessly integrated with their volunteer management system in Salesforce. The streamlined process creates an efficient workflow for their internal teams as they continue to scale and grow.