DE&I

Why Mental Health is an Important Part of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Companies across the country are putting more and more emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion, but something is often overlooked in the mix—mental health. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to share information, help break the stigma and start conversations about the importance of mental health. Every employee is unique, and employees who are part of minority groups and have diverse backgrounds deserve an equal amount of support and equal access to mental health resources.

Educate Company Leaders

In 2020, Daniel H. Gillison, Jr. of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) released a statement that mentioned, “The effect of racism and racial trauma on mental health is real and cannot be ignored.” It’s true, and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. It’s important that people in leadership positions at your company are made aware of the disparities that minorities face, including disparities in access to mental health care. According to Forbes, “Asians are 51% less likely to use mental health services than whites, Latinos are 25% less likely, and Blacks are 21% less likely. A range of factors contribute to these gaps, including stigma, discrimination, lack of coverage, and a shortage of providers, especially those from diverse backgrounds.” Employees that come from diverse backgrounds may also be faced with a lack of representation within the company, unconscious bias and more. When business leaders are educated on these topics and learn how to accurately recognize problems within their own companies, they’re more likely to effectively create solutions and support employees in ways that matter to them individually. 

Break the Stigma

Stigma against those with mental illness is unfortunately still lingering around in 2022, but you can help break the stigma in your place of business. Don’t hesitate to openly communicate about the importance of mental health, celebrate differences and publicly show your support for people of all backgrounds and lifestyles. Encourage employees to put their mental health first and to reach out to HR if they have questions or concerns. If someone doesn’t feel safe to be who they are at work, that can have a negative and lasting impact on their overall mental health. That’s why fostering a sense of safety and togetherness is crucial. Make sure that your employees and coworkers know that it’s ok to be themselves at work, and that you understand that mental illnesses are just as serious as physical ones. The goal is to make sure everyone on your team feels seen, cared for and supported.

Support a Healthy Work-Life Balance

Having a healthy work-life balance can make a world of difference when it comes to mental health. Leadership should encourage employees to take time off regularly to recharge, and employees shouldn’t ever have to feel guilty or uncomfortable for taking a break from work. At MHP/Team SI, we have a “use it or lose it” PTO policy to encourage employees to use all of their available time off and prevent employee burnout. We also encourage employees from the top down to completely unplug from work during their time off instead of popping in to check emails, Slack notifications, etc. 

Empower Employees With Resources & Training

Provide resources that can help employees improve their overall mental health and get access to professional help when they need it. At MHP/Team SI, we have an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides free counseling services to our employees and everyone in their households. It’s a free service available to all employees and it is completely confidential. It’s also a great idea to provide regular internal training opportunities that cover topics like countering unconscious bias, creating a sense of belonging, workplace diversity and inclusion, nonverbal communication and more. Offer a variety of ways to take part in training, from in-person group events to videos, remote meetings and online courses and quizzes.

At MHP/Team SI, we believe that mental health awareness and other DEI-related intatives are important to drive the innovation and success of our talented team. Committed to fostering a diverse community of innovative and data-driven professionals, the agency is always seeking new and fresh talent! If you are interested in being a part of our award-winning team, visit mhpteamsi.com/about-us/careers.

Author

Kayla Baugh