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Tools to Support Mental Health Equity in the Workplace

August 3, 2023
Source: Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP)

Last month was National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month — a time to explore key issues impacting the mental health of underserved communities, and to underscore the importance of supporting mental health equity, including in the workplace.

Historically, employees from underserved communities have not had equal access to mental health services and supports. Complex contributors to these inequities include a lack of available resources, social stigma surrounding mental healthcare, higher rates of chronic health conditions and demographic employment trends. For instance, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, workers in essential and service jobs experienced higher levels of stress and anxiety than those able to work remotely—and these front-line jobs are disproportionately held by Black and Latino workers.

There are numerous ways for employers to improve mental health equity and foster workplace mental well-being. A recently updated tool from the ODEP-funded Employer Assistance and Resource Network on Disability Inclusion (EARN) can help. EARN’s Mental Health Toolkit presents an easy-to-follow framework for building a mental health-friendly workplace culture, centered around “4 A’s”— awareness, accommodations, assistance and access. Each of these pillars represents actions employers can take to bolster worker well-being both internally—through education, a flexible work culture, and employee assistance programs (EAPs)—as well as externally, through increased access to treatment for mental health conditions.

Recent updates to the Toolkit address issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic—including the impact of Long COVID on mental health—as well as mental health in marginalized communities. Specifically, it outlines ways for employers to acknowledge and address systemic challenges and trends to provide workers with culturally competent, accessible and quality mental health care.

Other features of the Toolkit include summaries of research on workplace mental health, descriptions of initiatives implemented by companies of varying sizes and industries, and links to ready-to-use resources so employers can start their own initiatives. For small businesses in particular, the tool explores cost-saving strategies for offering EAPs and other beneficial services.

Visit the Mental Health Toolkit today to learn steps you can take to support the mental health needs of all employees—all year long.

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