Note: The examples provided come from our interview with Joe Forzano, Senior Engineering Manager at Alma.
A key takeaway from the past few years is the importance of supporting mental health, both outside and inside the workplace. For your team members to feel content and motivated, they need to be welcomed into a transparent and trust-driven environment. As a manager, you can play a vital role in supporting your worker's mental health. This is done through intentional relationship building and creating a safe space for them to feel heard.
This article explores the importance of supporting mental health in the workplace. It looks at how managers can support the mental health of their team and examines how technology is providing greater access to mental health services than ever before.
Up until the past few years, it was commonplace to separate your personal life from your work life. Traditionally, bringing personal or mental health issues into the workplace was often frowned upon. However, thinking that personal matters don't impact work performance is unrealistic. Companies are realizing this and changing their culture to accommodate the needs of their employees better.
Though there is obviously a balance to be found when considering what should be shared and how it should be handled in the workplace, managers now have the opportunity to play a more significant role in creating a supportive foundation for their team. In this new model, employees should feel comfortable sharing concerns impacting their performance. And managers should do their best to lend an ear and helping hand when appropriate. Creating a safe space where people feel heard contributes hugely to overall well-being.
We are by no means encouraging managers to take on the role of a therapist, and we recognize that there's a limit to the types of support managers can provide. However, there are opportunities for managers to intentionally check in on the well-being of their people. To ensure that they are content with their work and let them know that they are available to discuss any personal matters. When necessary, managers can help direct people to professional mental health services for things beyond their scope. But, for this type of transparent environment to become a reality, managers must first base their working relationships on trust.
Building trust is a key part of forming healthy relationships with your team as a manager. If there's a foundation built on trust, people are more comfortable sharing personal issues. Trust does take time to build, but by bringing genuine intentions to your interactions and showing a high level of reliability, this trust can come alive much quicker.
People are more likely to trust you if you stick to your word and lead by example. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If someone asks for help, give them the resources and support they need. Communicating frequently and effectively also goes a long way toward establishing mutual trust. Furthermore, for people to open up to you, you also need to be willing to be transparent. Sharing your own struggles or concerns can help your employees feel that the relationship isn't one-sided.
It's important to remember even the smallest interactions can help build trust. Asking someone about their day or sharing details about yours is a great way to get the ball rolling. These small yet intentional steps will help create the safe space needed to discuss more pressing matters.
People are more likely to trust you if you stick to your word and lead by example. If you say you're going to do something, do it. If someone asks for help, give them the resources and support they need. Communicating frequently and effectively also goes a long way toward establishing mutual trust.
For managers to better support their people's mental health, they need to understand that every person has different needs. How you communicate with individual team members will vary, as will how you manage them. Simply taking time to get to know your team members is an excellent first step. Using questionnaires can also be a helpful tool to extract details about your team members. Doing so will allow you to gain insight into how to manage each individual best.
For example: You could ask people what types of situations make them uncomfortable or anxious in your questionnaire. If they say public speaking is an issue for them, you can do your best to make sure that a public speaking task doesn't come across their path. As the manager handing out the questionnaire, it can also be helpful to include your answers to the same questions. This will give a better idea of the types of answers that will be most helpful.
Though supporting mental health in the workplace is valuable for all parties involved, there will be instances where general support isn't enough. In cases where professional mental healthcare is the best step forward, employees should be encouraged to find the help they need. Luckily, advances in technology and telehealth platforms have created greater access to mental health services than ever before.
The pandemic fast-tracked many types of telehealth services, including teletherapy. People can now get professional mental health support from the comfort of their own homes and even on the go. Since teletherapy can be conducted from anywhere, people have many types of providers they can choose from. This is important because for therapy to work well, your therapist needs to be someone you trust and can connect with.
Not only does teletherapy provide access to a diverse network of providers, but these services tend to be more affordable. Though some telehealth providers are affordable because they don't bill insurance, helping more providers accept insurance is another way technology creates more access to mental health services.
Alma, a pioneer in the mental healthcare space, uses their technology platform to help providers accept insurance. Alma allows providers to focus their full attention on client care by negotiating better rates and processing insurance claims.
The scale at which technology can help increase access to mental healthcare is really inspiring.
Joe Forzana, Senior Engineering Manager at Alma
Modern workplaces can benefit from providing a more supportive environment for their employees. Managers can build healthy and transparent relationships with their team members, creating a foundation of trust. From this foundation, employees can feel more comfortable voicing concerns. With this knowledge in mind, managers can then do what they can to support their employees through difficult times. Creating a space where people feel heard is a big step toward better workplace dynamics.
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