The mental health of workers has worsened during the pandemic, according to Willis Towers Watson’s annual Best Practices in Health Care Employer Survey, with 92% of employees reporting some level of anxiety and 55% indicating a moderate or high degree of anxiety.
Nearly 50% of employers are looking at enhancing the existing mental health services they offer. If you’re planning on increasing focus on mental health as an employer, these are some considerations to keep in mind.
Focus on the built environment. Making spaces for employees to recharge during the workday is important. Adding meditation or reflection rooms, a walking track or some green spaces are all good ways to provide places for respite that employees dealing with anxiety might find helpful.
Share information about meditation and mindfulness. Both of these techniques have been proven to retrain an anxious brain to be more resistant to everyday stress, including the kind that can pop up at work. The Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being team releases new meditation sessions every week. Register for upcoming sessions or find past meditations here.
Encourage leaders to set the example. If you’re telling your employees it’s important to take breaks and engage in activities that can help quiet anxiety such as meditation, it’s important that the leaders in your organization model those behaviors as well.
Work to dismantle stigma. Work on building a workplace culture that lets employees feel as comfortable talking about needing time off for a therapy appointment as they are to go to the doctor. With the rise in telehealth, some employers have even put in soundproof kiosks that allow their employers to take time out of their day for telepsychiatry appointments or other telehealth visits.
Empower healthier choices. Stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine can exacerbate stress. Make sure to offer non-caffeinated drinks in the break room and consider offering smoking cessation help for employees who need it. High-sugar foods can also contribute to feelings of being jittery. Make sure your employees have healthy snack choices at work and consider creating educational posters to help employees better understand the impact food has on overall health.
Learn more about anxiety in the workplace in this Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar, featuring Dr. William Beecroft, medical director, Behavioral Health at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll find past sessions and resources.