Why Mental Health Month Matters 

Jennifer HashemAs companies return to work after over a year of working from home, a lot can be said about the toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on our mental health. Whether you had to work around children and their school schedules, ended up with a barking dog in your camera more often than you would have liked, or had to share quarters with your spouse who also worked from home, the pandemic has generated a surge in the discussions surrounding mental health.

May is Mental Health Month, and more and more businesses have taken stances on mental health as their employees return to work with some hesitancies about what a “new normal” looks like. This poses a unique opportunity for public relations professionals to be champions for themselves and their fellow colleagues – especially those who struggle with mental health conditions – in simple, powerful ways that keep health and wellness top of mind as folks readjust to returning to the office.

Utilize your HR team to provide refreshers on the type of wellness options available to teammates – Larger companies are beginning to provide more and more benefits in relation to mental health and well-being. Additionally, some insurance providers offer therapy or counseling for those who struggle with mental health. Having HR revisit all employee benefits will allow for you and your teammates to understand what options are available to you and if there are opportunities to seek professional assistance by regularly visiting a therapist to feel more at ease with reacclimating to a new schedule.

Talk to your marketing department about how you can generate more awareness about this month of recognition – A few excellent examples of local entities that have taken stances on mental health include the Colts’ Kicking the Stigma Initiative and the City of Fishers’ Stigma Free Fishers campaign. The more facts and knowledge your colleagues are armed with, the more they can advocate to generate awareness. Don’t have time to whip up a full-fledged campaign? Utilize social media for fast facts about mental health or post flyers up around the office with resources that people can take advantage of. Take it a step further and initiate a few company-wide lunch and learns or mental health trainings throughout the month that give people a brave space to share their personal battles with mental health.

Add a little Zen to the office space – Going back to work doesn’t have to feel stressful. Create quiet rooms, places with couches or lounge chairs, areas with plants and calming scents, and decrease the use of fluorescent lighting wherever possible. Help your teammates remember that they can take the feeling of working from home to the office, and still remain professional.

You earned that vacation, so take it – In addition to the slew of emotions and stress endured over the last year, many people lost the opportunity to take proper vacations due to COVID-19. Add the layer of returning to work and trying to establish new sense of normalcy and taking time off can feel frowned upon. If you’ve racked up some vacation time, find time to take it and encourage others to do the same – and be sure to tuck your phone or iPad away to give your mind, and your devices, a much-needed break.

By Jennifer Hashem, Public Information Officer, Superior Construction