Utilize Online Learning to Teach Employees About Mental Health
By Jori Hamilton
Image Source: Pexels
July 12 2022 - Mental wellness is a key concern for any business. Employees struggling with mental health challenges without adequate support can experience disruptions in productivity. Higher absenteeism is also a common result. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that depression alone is the cause of 200 million lost workdays each year. Aside from the commercial incentives, helping workers learn about mental wellness and establish healthy practices is an ethical duty of all employers.
This can be particularly challenging when your business operates remotely. Employees working from home aren’t the most visible to their managers. The remote experience itself can add a level of emotionally disruptive isolation. However, online learning methods can be an effective tool to provide workers with the information and resources they need to thrive.
We’re going to explore a few of the ways your business can utilize online learning to teach employees about mental health.
Provide Independent Courses
Mental health certainly has more public attention than it did even a decade ago. However, this doesn’t mean employees always fully understand the subject practically. One accessible way to provide valuable education about mental wellness is by creating elearning courses.
This is a more independently-driven approach to empowering workers with mental health knowledge. You and your human resources (HR) department can create courses with modules that are most relevant to your workers and your company. These should be geared toward recognizing symptoms of common mental wellness challenges and how they might present in employees’ lives. Most importantly, the modules should provide information about the assistance your company can provide to your workers.
This can be especially effective when built in conjunction with experts on the subject. Mental health non-profit organizations can be a good source of information in this regard. Wherever possible, seek to collaborate with them on a consultancy basis. This can help you to build modules rooted in facts and aimed at providing the most helpful advice to workers.
However, your elearning courses don’t have to just be focused on symptoms of traditional mental health challenges. Maintaining cognitive functioning is an important part of workplace wellness, too. Create modules to introduce cognitive exercises that can improve memory, focus, and generally maintain neurological sharpness. These could include meditation practices, critical thinking games, and solving math problems.
Address Difficult Periods
There are going to be times when maintaining mental wellness is more difficult than others. While staff may be educated about their general mental health, they may not be fully cognizant of how challenging circumstances might impact this. It’s important to provide relevant online learning exercises to empower workers to understand and address the mental strain of specific difficult periods.
For instance, there may be events occurring in our society that can cause significant background stress. While workers may not think this is having an impact on them, there may be cumulative effects they don’t recognize. For instance, the various pressures and isolation surrounding COVID-19 are causing many people to experience sleep disruption. This prolonged "coronasomnia" can both be caused by and exacerbate other symptoms of anxiety and stress. HR managers must build elearning modules based on highlighting sleep disorders and providing advice on maintaining healthy sleep routines.
There may also be occasions where the company itself may be the root of difficult periods. This could involve crunch projects putting an additional level of pressure on workers. Your business may experience particularly busy seasons with a lot of strained consumer interactions. Issuing online exercises to address what to expect during these periods and resources the business provides to help workers maintain their wellness can be a valuable way to make sure staff are well prepared.
Utilize Group Exercises
Part of the problem with mental health in the workplace is it tends not to be treated with the openness that allows workers to access the support they need. For many people, a long history of stigma in the workplace also leads to them being more closeted about their challenges. In remote workplaces, the sense of isolation and disconnection from the group only exacerbates such issues. One potential elearning solution is engaging in online group education and exercises.
This could begin with using video conference platforms to engage in group discussions about mental health. Some of the most valuable practical information for everyone is based on personal experiences of mental wellness at work. You or your HR department can begin sessions with a more general conversation on mental health before opening discussion points with staff members. Give opportunities for workers to talk about elements of the job they find psychologically and emotionally challenging. Encourage them to share solutions and coping mechanisms they adopt.
Wherever possible, introduce collaborative software tools into this education scenario. Digital whiteboards and mind mapping platforms can help everyone feel more personally engaged with the education process. Give space for all members to write down challenges, triggers, and mechanisms. Managers can add details of the resources the company can provide to address their challenges alongside their personal experiences.
After these group sessions, you can create a valuable document that each member has contributed to. Share this on the company cloud platform or intranet so there is an additional resource for workers to take advantage of. Most importantly, these group sessions communicate how positive openness about mental health is an important part of company culture.
Mental wellness is a vital part of workers’ personal and professional lives. When your company operates remotely, online learning platforms can be powerful sources of education and support on the subject. Between independently driven elearning courses and virtual group exercises, you can give your workers the psychological and emotional tools they need to truly thrive.
Jori Hamilton is a freelance writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, recruitment, HR, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and Contently.
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