Blue Monday Isn’t the Only Day of the Year to Think About Employee Mental Health
By Judy Kneiszel
The third Monday in January has been singled out as the gloomiest day of the year. The factors causing this day to be dubbed Blue Monday are:
Mental health isn’t something to think about one day a year, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that poor mental health and stress can negatively impact job performance, productivity, engagement with work, communication with coworkers, and daily functioning.
- Post-holiday let-down,
- Holiday credit card charges coming due, and
- Cold weather, combined with long dark evenings, in much of the country.
To reduce the stigma around mental health issues, employers should try to make talking about mental health challenges an everyday occurrence.
Here are some ideas HR professionals could suggest or support in your organization:
- Encourage managers to check in with teams regularly, and share information about mental health resources, whether that’s the company Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or resources in the community.
- Suggest that mental health be addressed occasionally in larger company-wide meetings or calls.
- Ask company leaders if they’d be willing to discuss their own mental health in short videos to be shared internally. This would show employees that vulnerability is universal. Not all leaders can be expected to share deeply personal stories about mental health challenges, but a few words on what they do to relieve stress could be helpful.
- Encourage managers to model healthy behaviors by using their paid time off (PTO). They could also share with their teams if they are taking time for a mid-day walk, a therapy appointment, or other form of self-care.
- Grant employees’ PTO requests whenever possible, even last minute “I need a mental health day” requests that may be inconvenient.
- Use employee surveys to get an understanding of the mental health challenges employees are facing, and follow through with meaningful action in response to the survey findings. For example, if a large number of employees respond that they are stressed out by after-hours work emails and phone calls, create a policy that prohibits off-the-clock work of any kind.