Emotional PPE: Moving Mental Health to the Forefront

One of the many things we have learned since the beginning of the pandemic is the meaning of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our bodies.

But what about PPE for our mental and emotional health?

Employees are reporting increased stress, anxiety, and feelings of burnout. Employees and supervisors new to remote work are citing additional struggles with managing productivity while balancing the transition of working from home, often with children present and trying to cope with remote education instruction.

Graphic showing worker mental health statistics: 75% of employees report increased burnout 40% of employees are suffering from one mental health or substance abuse issue since the beginning of the pandemic 66% report increased stress 33% report social isolation and loneliness
Source: SWEAP Connections client roster data

One thing that becomes clear, companies must move employee wellbeing — including mental health — to the forefront. Providing employees support, information, resources, and programs in this area increases wellbeing, safety, productivity, and company loyalty, as well as provides a significant return on investment. 

As we look at what is within an organization’s control regarding employee mental health, start with the basics:

Talk About It Positively. From the CEO to your supervisors, encourage language that is positive regarding mental health and seeking support. Leaders should actively participate and encourage others to do so.

Provide Easy to Access to Resources. Everyone is quick to dismiss generic-looking emails, so look for fun alternatives. Use simple, engaging communication that quickly answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” Make sure to use at least two additional channels — like social media or banners/posters/TV monitors — to reach people and add some emotion by sharing success stories that show how these programs are making a difference. Most companies already have several great wellness benefits. A push to make sure that employees know and have easy access to those resources can be all that is needed to start seeing results.

Targeted Awareness Campaigns. Identify your population’s primary concerns and create awareness campaigns to increase knowledge in those areas. Feature wellbeing and mental health topics throughout the year in company newsletters and employee publications. SWEAP Connections provides content on mental health topics and tools that are easy to understand and share with employees.

Build a Network of Wellness Champions. Online communication is a powerful tool, but personal connections are priceless. Recruit a community of employees who are passionate about well-being or have a knack for rallying the troops. Give them the tools to champion the benefits of the program and publicly recognize their leadership.

— Read more in SWEAP Connections 2021 Workforce Impacts and Trends