Employee wellness programs can have a tremendous impact on employees’ overall well-being, however, when building programs, many companies leave out a very important aspect. To call a wellness program “all encompassing,” we need not forget the importance of mental health. With many campaigns focusing on physical health, the opportunity to increase overall well-being, productivity and morale of your company is missed out on.

As with physical ailments, mental health issues lead to loss of productivity, absenteeism, and increase health costs. According to the World Health Organization, stress alone costs American businesses about $300 billion. So, what can employers do to target mental health?

Start with company culture. Reduce stress by creating a positive work environment. Large corporations such as Huffington Post have begun embracing practices such as workplace meditation and a promoted work-life balance. We have seen, firsthand, how regular meditation can result in lessened stress and improved brain functions. In addition, promoting a work-life balance and encouraging employees to turn their e-mails off after hours can result in less cases of burnout, happier workers, and increased productivity.

Provide mental health programs for your employees. Ensure that employees have proper access to mental health programs by providing an employee assistance program (EAP) and promoting it. EAPs help employees identify and resolve issues such as mental, emotional, family, substance abuse, etc. while maintaining confidentiality. These programs allow employees to seek out assistance from someone who can refer them to mental health professionals and programs designed to assist them in resolving their issues.

Add mental health to your monthly campaign rotation. As with physical challenges and competitions, it’s important to remember to educate employees on mental health. Hosting educational events that teach employees how to manage with everyday stress both inside and outside the workplace is a great way to start. In addition, stress balls, manuals and logs can be excellent freebees to hand out to employees.

While it is encouraging to see many large corporations and small businesses embracing wellness programs, there is still not enough emphasis on mental health. To truly be a proponent of “overall” well-being, a program must take into account the importance of the emotional state of its employees. Starting from the ground up and ensuring you have a positive company culture is a huge leap in the right direction

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