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October 10 is World Mental Health Day. This is a day, supported by the World Health Organization, focused on bringing awareness and understanding to the causes of mental health.

In recent years, activists and organizations have made huge strides in breaking down the stigmas that surround mental health. Through improved education and awareness, youth and adults can talk about issues like depression and anxiety more openly. This awareness has also led to more resources.

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Businesses can use World Mental Health Day to concentrate on workplace mental health. A healthy work environment is important to employee’s mental health, and yet, in Canada, 30% of disability claims are directly related to mental health. Supporting your staff in positive ways is one of the best benefits you can offer to back workplace mental health.

Increase Awareness

Talking about workplace mental health is the first step in dismantling stigma. Providing a safe space to discuss what mental health is and the different ways it can affect a person will help you to develop a dialogue in the workplace.

Begin by discussing the myths that continue to surround mental health. Many people who live with mental illness do so in silence because misinformation about mental health makes them feel embarrassed and ashamed. Through open dialogue in the workplace you can offer support to employees who may be suffering silently, simply by addressing these facts.

Offer Training to Managers

When the people in charge are educated about mental health, they’re able to address it more effectively. Workplace mental health requires knowledge. Your company probably already provides professional training to managers on a variety of subjects, so why not include mental health? 63% of managers say they would like to receive training in order to better deal with workplace mental health.

There are numerous courses available for workplace mental health, many specifically geared towards managers. These courses teach managers how to engage with employees about mental illness, how to spot changes in an employee that may be emblematic of an issue, and what kind of help is available to employees.

Training on mental health also looks at leave, how to provide it, support it and most importantly, how to reintegrate an employee upon return.

Support Employees Physical Health

We know exercise does a world of wonder when it comes to prevent heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other illnesses. But it can also make people feel good.

There is a direct link between physical health and mental health, with each impacting the other.

There are several psychological benefits connected to improved physical health. Physical activity releases endorphins, a chemical that interacts with your brain, reducing how you perceive pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, like the feeling produced by morphine. But endorphins are good for you.

Regular exercise helps to reduce stress, anxiety and feelings of depression. It also improves self-esteem.

How does this relate to the workplace? Easy, when employers provide benefits that support employee’s physical health—such as wellness spending accounts, access to health and wellness apps, or gym memberships, they’re also supporting their mental health.

Many offices bring exercise into the workplace through lunchtime yoga classes, office sports teams and even competition. There are many ways to do it, what matters is that you do, and that you make it fun and accessible to every employee.

Provide Access to Mental Health Resources

Your benefit plans should include access to mental health resources. Just as ten years ago Millennials began the push for better benefits for physical health, they are now pushing for better access to mental health resources, including access to medication and professional counselors and therapists.

Across Canada and the U.S. mental health services consistently receive less funding than other services, often resulting in long wait times or higher out of pocket costs. Employers can help by including coverage in the benefit plans they offer.

Communication is Key

For business leaders, the key to supporting workplace mental health is communication. Open discussion about workplace stress, burnout, and work-life balance is the start to encouraging employees to seek help when feeling overwhelmed.

Fostering a workplace that supports employee mental health will not only create a positive work culture, it will also lead to higher job satisfaction for employees—making your company a place where people will want to work.

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Mario Malatesta

Mario Malatesta

With experience in the financial services industry and the group benefits industry, Mario Malatesta founded GroupQuest Benefits Resources Inc with just his business partner. Today, GroupQuest is a leading Group MGA in Canada with about $150M of group insurance premium in force and a support team of over 35 staff members including: renewal, marketing, sales, and service support teams. GroupQuest has offices in Vancouver, BC and Calgary, AB, as well as a head office in Mississauga, ON.   Mario is married with two children (twins). He enjoys many different sports and travelling with his family.

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