Our top four strategies for supporting your employees’ mental health

Explore the most effective methods for tending to the whole person well-being of your teams

The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth a surge in mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse related to the collective trauma of the past few years. 

There are an immense amount of studies stacking up around the mental health impacts on the workforce that have left some employers with the daunting task of finding solutions and resources to address these issues for their team. 

Many of our existing clients at WeCare tlc have made changes to improve their workplace culture around mental health and we thought we would highlight some advice that has worked well for them with our top strategies for supporting your employees’ mental health.

#1: Addressing the stigma

Stigma prevents people from seeking the care they need, so it’s critical for employers to reduce negative attitudes about mental health in the workplace and help employees feel better about using the resources at their fingertips. In fact, 62% of employees said having someone in a leadership role speak openly about mental health would make them feel more comfortable talking about it themselves. [1] 

Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Running multi-channel anti-stigma campaigns that encourage employees at all levels to share their stories and feel more comfortable accessing mental health resources.
  • Taking a “circular approach” that nestles mental health resources within those of other well-being areas, such as sleep or financial wellness.
  • Arming managers with tools like discussion guides that help build psychological safety.
  • Keeping the conversation going by developing opportunities for employees to discuss mental health including new hire orientations, lunch and learns, webinars, and peer-to-peer programs. 

#2: Lowering barriers

It’s challenging to raise awareness of benefits, let alone get people to engage with them—especially with stigmas standing in the way. But in order for people to make the most of the health plan benefits and mental health resources available to them, those benefits and resources have to be easy to find and easy to use. Improving accessibility is especially important considering 2 out of 5 Americans live in areas designated as having a shortage of behavioral health providers. [2]

Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Utilizing the care teams at their employer-sponsored health clinics to reinforce the mental and behavioral health resources available to employees through their health plan. Collaborative and integrated care is the best resource!
  • Streamlining digital navigation by putting resources in one place, reducing clicks, using clear language, and navigating to third party (community) resources.
  • Bringing in speakers to do live sessions on mental health, especially during Mental Health Awareness Month in May and other key dates throughout the year.
  • Promoting telehealth and other virtual, on-demand resources. 
  • Introducing resources to employees’ family members via home mailers. 
  • Empowering managers with ideas to help engage their team in short well-being breaks during the workday.
  • Onboarding onsite behavioral health clinicians at worksite health centers.
  • Reducing copays or adding additional Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or Behavioral Health Support coverage to employee health plans.
  • Conducting a survey to understand the unique barriers to care that employees face to accurately provide workaround support.

#3: Optimizing communication

At a time when people are overwhelmed and constantly bombarded by information, it’s essential to find what works best for your workforce, which might be an ever-moving target. Stay curious and experiment.

Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Positioning all aspects of well-being (i.e., physical, mental, nutritional, sleep, financials) as being interconnected; self-care in one area usually helps people feel better in other areas (like mental health!). 
  • Using verbiage that connects with people such as instead of saying “EAP,” saying “Do you need help?”
  • Communicating with employees over a wide variety of channels to increase reach, boost awareness, and promote engagement at the time of need.
  • Asking employees how they want to be communicated with and how they prefer to access resources — and then delivering accordingly.
  • Customizing messages as needed to reach and resonate with particular employee groups. 
  • Building a healthy environment around employee needs. Go further to create regular formal and informal opportunities for input and take action.  
  • Creating a proactive communications program that educates employees and their managers on the signs of burnout and how to put self-care into practice. Self-care starts with employers and HR leaders taking a deliberate approach and, to the extent possible, a holistic view of employee well-being and offering services and programs across physical, emotional, financial, social, and spiritual well-being.

#4: Empowering leaders

HR Managers are at the front-lines with employees, putting them in the perfect position to offer personal support that makes a difference. 

Leading employers are finding success with:

  • Promoting an empathetic leadership style in which they lead by example, actively listen, and participate in wellbeing initiatives alongside teams.
  • Encouraging one-on-one, personal check-ins with employees.
  • Providing mental health education to help managers identify the signs of stress and burnout, having meaningful conversations, and offering applicable resources. 
  • Creating mental health discussion guides for managers to get them comfortable with what to say and what to ask when talking with employees who need support,especially those who may be afraid to ask for help.
  • Simplifying communications that break through to busy professionals with competing priorities. 

Closing thoughts

At the end of the day, employees really just want their leaders to be empathetic and understanding. Addressing mental health can be cumbersome, but taking some small steps forward can make the biggest impact on your employees’ overall health and well-being. On top of that, it can also benefit your bottom line. Healthcare costs for treating individuals with behavioral and chronic conditions are two to three times higher than for those without behavioral health conditions, so catering to the mental and behavioral health conditions of your employees will only reduce your health care costs. [2]

How we can help

At WeCare tlc, we understand that the continued growth of mental and behavioral health conditions across all populations means that response is key. When it comes to our clients, we are committed to finding solutions that improve the health outcomes for their employees and lower costs for their organization. We know that a collaborative, integrated approach to care provides the best outcomes for our patients. That’s why we offer custom mental and behavioral health solutions to all of our health centers as needed. Learn more here


1: Forbes | 62% of Employees Want Leadership To Speak Openly About Mental Health

2: Milliman | Potential economic impact of integrated medical-behavioral healthcare