Mental Health Officer Speaking: Do You Have a Mental Health Strategy in Place?
Three steps towards a successful corporate mental health strategy!
From time to time, the world starts speaking louder about things related to mental health, mental issues, and mental disorders. Not so long ago, on July 5th, a popular American rapper Kanye West announced that he was going to join the 2020 US Presidential race as a candidate. He even conducted the first meeting with the electorate, however emotional and chaotic it was. Shortly after, his wife Kim Kardashian on her Instagram page wrote that Kanye experienced an exacerbation of his bipolar disorder. Suddenly, Kanye’s bipolar disorder was the number one topic.
Yet, there are many more people who suffer from bipolar disorder. The society must be educated to identify the symptoms of this disease and to support people who are suffering from it. You as an employer have to take care of the mental well-being of your employees. You can also engage in psychology software development for your employees to be armed with apps to help with depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, and other mental health issues. Aside from moral reasons to do so, there are quite a few statistically proven performance and productivity outcomes.
Would you like to learn more about why to take care of your employees’ mental health?
Check out my recent article titled “I Need to Meghan Markle: Why and How to Care About Mental Health of Your Employees?”.
Not each of us has a bipolar disorder, but all of us are living in cycles — with ups and downs, with high-productivity periods and the periods of laziness. And it is fine. The human being is not a Pixie fairy full of endless energy and joy. Our magnificent brain was built to survive, and in order to survive, it learned to focus on dangers. Statistically, 80 percent of thoughts born in our heads are negative. The evolution allowed us to survive until this day, but it also played a bad joke on us — it taught us to see the black before we see the white.
So, what should you do as an employer?
I am a Mental Health Officer at KeenEthics, and I am very proud of the effort that our company takes to make sure that employees are in peace with themselves. We have proved that software development and mental health can go hand in hand. So, let me share the steps we took to create and implement a corporate mental health strategy.
Step 1: Understand the root of the problem
We do not know for sure what causes mental issues, but we must remember that mental health issues are no less serious than physical health ones. Each person has their own reasons for mental health issues to happen in the past, present, or future. Moreover, for one person, a certain factor will serve as a mental issue trigger, while the other person will not even notice it. People are of various psychological constitutions, sensitivity levels, and perception skills.
In general, we can come up with a list of the most common triggers, which may cause mental health issues. Here they are:
- Childhood traumas (for example, when adult people abuse a child or when they ignore the kid’s needs)
- Domestic abuse (bullying, mobbing, pressing, physical violence, or sexual harassment of an adult person by relatives or the partner)
- Social isolation or loneliness
- Discrimination or stigma
- Social inequality, insufficient level of life, resource deficiency
- The fear of losing close ones
- Intense or long-lasting stress
- Chronic physical health disease
- Job loss or unemployment
- Poor or absent living conditions
- Taking care of other people for too long (for example, being a caretaker of an elderly sick person)
- Alcohol or drug abuse
- Military experience (for example, living in a country in a state of war or serving in an army fighting in this war)
- Physical causes (for instance, head traumas)
- Pandemic and social moods related to it as the most recent mental health issues trigger
- Lifestyle (life-work balance, job, diet, medicines intake, sleep, and social contacts)
As you can see, there are plenty of factors that may affect one’s mental health. Chances are, each of us may sometimes experience a mental disorder.
You as an employer should beware of these reasons and share the knowledge of those with your colleagues. Employees should know them in order to be able to admit that they have a mental struggle. HR managers, Project Managers, Team Leads, or whoever communicates the closest with some employees should know these reasons in order to understand once somebody is in a risk zone. For instance, if a Project Manager learns that one of their team members is a caretaker of an elderly relative for quite some time already, they should pay closer attention to their emotional well-being.
Step 2: Share the ten mental health best practices with your employees
At the kindergarten, school, college, and work, all of us are taught to provide first aid. We all know what to do if you have been bitten by a snake, if you have cut your finger, or if you have got food poisoning. But what should you do if some mental issues occur? What can you do to help yourself or the people around you to cope with mental hardships?
There are ten best practices to keep in mind and to share with others:
- Observe. The first and most important tool is observation. Observe your own behavior and measure your moods. Ask yourself what you feel and why. Listen to your inner self. Try keeping a mood diary. Keep track of your mental health — this will let you understand your condition, what improves or worsens it. Do not be afraid to share your findings with your close ones — let them know how they can help and support you.
- Grow and take care of your social life. To kill a mammoth, our predecessors would gather in groups. Later, these groups would develop and turn into friendship circles. This is why, humans need social contacts — these contacts help us feel confident and needed, be exposed to diverse points of view on different things. Even a simple phone call or a social network texting may have a very beneficial impact. Sometimes, for some reason, a person may have no friends, but it is not a reason to be sad. There are a lot of alternative ways for establishing social contacts, such as sports, activity clubs, traveling, and many others.
- Do not forget to relax. Among the most common relaxation techniques, there is a soothing bath. Going on a walk with yourself or reading a book — make sure that there is a place for such things in your life and that you do them regularly and often. The best apps for depression or other mental disorders will not help you if you do not have time to chill.
- Practice mindfulness. It is a simple therapeutic practice of being attentive, being present here and now, living through every moment. This technique is easy to master and very helpful for mental health. Also, there are plenty of mental health apps that will help you practice mindfulness.
- Keep in touch with nature. In fact, being in touch with the environment helps you a lot. Whatever it is, forest, park, sea, or garden — it will give you the feeling of contact with nature. It also helps if you spend time playing with animals — cats or dogs, or observing the wild nature.
- Find a hobby for your soul. You do not have to be the best, you have to be yourself. Collect a herbarium, draw paintings, or play lego — it has to be an outlet for your feelings.
- Focus on the good. Even in the darkest times, try to think what is good in this or that situation, what good it may bring, or what lesson it may teach you.
- Review your lifestyle. Take care of your physical health, sleep well, maintain work-life balance, eat healthy, and exercise.
- Know your triggers. Earlier in this article, I have listed the factors that may trigger mental destabilization. You may have your own reasons — this is why you have to get to know yourself. You should understand when to mobilize your powers and to throw them at the defense of your mental health.
- Do not be afraid to ask for help. Tell you close people about your hardships or contact a professional mental health specialist. Share your worries and be open to get help.
This list of mental health helpers is not complete. Yet, some of these aforementioned techniques may help a person to timely identify and address a mental issue and to keep their mental well-being up.
Step 3: Establish a mental health department
Trust me, the resources you invest in corporate mental health policy would pay off handsomely. Surely, I do not mean that you should throw everything you have at mental health strategy. You probably have an HR department already, and a mental health department will perfectly fit into it. Hire an HR manager with a degree in psychology or mental healthcare or suggest one of your current HRs to undergo such a training course.
This person will create a mental health strategy, which will suit your companies’ interests and needs best.
Some of the tactical decisions that a Mental Health Officer may implement include:
- Mental health audit for the officer to understand what they are dealing with;
- One-to-ones where an employee may talk to the officer about everything;
- Mindfulness training for the employees to learn to enjoy their life, to be present here and now;
- Weekly mental health stand-ups for the officer to share important insights, recommendations, warnings, or instructions with the entire company, It is important that no personal information is disclosed during such stand-ups for all the people to feel safe and comfortable;
- Mental health brochures for the officer to share the same information as in the point above but in a written form;
- Mood check-ups for the officer to keep track of each person’s moods and of the company’s mood in general. This technique can be implemented manually or with the help of psychological software solutions.
The ultimate goal of the mental health department is to timely identify mental health issues and to encourage people to get professional help before it is too late if such issues occur. They should help people enjoy their work, realize their needs, and understand their inner self.
Motivated, productive, devoted, and friendly employees are the dream of every employer. However, not all employers understand that employee motivation, productivity, and performance are also their responsibility. It is in your best interest to make sure that your users feel good about their job, their life, and about themselves. If the ethical reasoning of helping those in need does not convince you, let the pragmatic business reasoning guide you.
But first, take care of yourself, listen to yourself, and be mentally healthy!
Is there anything we can help you with?
Would you like us to help you with software development? Would you like our Mental Health Officer to help you with the mental health strategy on your project? Mental health software development is a way to go, and we do have experience in such services! Let us know what we can do for you!