Best practices for communicating about mental health

Lyra Health recently released its 2023 State of the Workplace Mental Health report.

More than 2,500 United States employees and 250 employee benefits leaders were surveyed between September 19 and December 7, 2022, to better understand the experiences and attitudes related to workforce mental health.

Some stats

  • 86 percent of workers reported facing at least one mental health challenge in the past year.
  • 34 percent of workers said they are not able to disengage from work after the workday is over.
  • 40 percent of workers did not believe or were unsure if their company leaders promote and protect a psychologically safe workplace.

Yet the percentage of workers who said mental health is discussed in the workplace nearly doubled from 28 percent to 55 percent from 2021-2023.

How can we make that communication impactful? How can we compassionately address burnout (the second most common factor affecting employee mental health) and make a change?

Lyra Health’s best practices

  • Put mental health on the agenda. The first step is to treat mental health as a priority. By making space in a team huddle or department meeting to foster dialogue around mental health, we encourage open, destigmatizing discussions and new ways to connect with colleagues.
  • Get specific. When we show first-hand knowledge of mental health resources, challenges, and experiences, trust and comfort levels increase. Rather than saying, “resources are available,” name those resources and how to access them. Share them in meeting notes or create a communal reference document like this.
  • Lead by example. If comfortable, challenge yourself by discussing your own mental health among colleagues. Whether it be sharing moments of stress or helpful strategies, the more ways we discuss mental health, the more we can support overall workplace well-being.
  • Proactively check-in. Take the pulse of the people. A seasonal department-wide survey, 1-1 meetings, or quick chat gauges during stressful projects are all ways to foster a culture of mental health and well-being. Be sure to share general summaries and how you’ll address key themes that surfaced!
  • Be conscious of the language you and others use. Words matter. Be thoughtful about choosing inclusive, people-first language that limits othering and discrimination. A quick internet search or question to a peer is a step in the right direction toward a safer workplace.
  • Provide mental health training and awareness campaigns. Highlight webinars or response training that can help colleagues further understand the nuances of mental health. Consider promoting affinity groups, Mental Health Awareness Month, or other initiatives that are timely and helpful in both visibility and education.

For more information on mental health trends, advice for managers, and other findings, access the full 2023 State of the Workforce Mental Health report.