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24 Feb. 2020 | Comments (0)

Because mental health is very individualized, it remains a challenge to create a realistic mental health culture that satisfies all employees’ needs. As with communication tactics, mental health programs must be diversified and measured in order to generate positive change. My graduate thesis, ‘An Exploratory Study of How Millennials Approach and Communicate Mental Health in the Workplace,’ focuses on the gaps that exist between current and ideal corporate mental health programs. The study consisted of a 20-question survey with a total of 254 respondents.

Mental health days/flexible work environments are not only a highly utilized approach, but also are chosen the most by respondents when crafting their ideal mental health strategy. Ultimately, this research shows that 60% of millennials associate a positive mental health culture with one that incorporates a flexible work environment. Taking a mental health day without fear of punishment goes beyond the occasional summer Friday or doctor appointment; the underlying notion of a flexible work environment is one rooted in trust. Fostering a culture where managers and associates trust one another goes a long way in laying the foundation for a mentally healthy company.

The top three gaps between current mental health initiatives and what millennials would like to see their companies begin to implement include manager trust/empathy trainings (22%), partnering with outside organizations/nonprofits (17%), and Human Resources benefits plans with mental health-specific resources (17%). Thus, as companies go about establishing or tweaking their corporate mental health strategy, it is recommended that they consider investing in at least one of these three initiatives. The gap between current and ideal means there is a greater need for these resources that aren’t currently available elsewhere. Also, if these initiatives are properly implemented and communicated, it can help the company stand out as a leader in workplace mental health.

When crafting a corporate mental health strategy, companies don’t need to start from scratch. A great deal of companies have developed robust mental health cultures and the case studies that come out of these journeys are useful roadmaps for other organizations. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a section on Workplace Health Promotion. Within this section, Prudential Financial, Certified Angus Beef, and Tripler Arm Medical Center are showcased for how they incorporate corporate mental health programs. However, because a corporate mental health plan is not a one-size-fits-all model, initiatives must be continuously measured and improved based on quantitative and/or qualitative employee feedback.

To read more about how to optimally create, adjust, or maintain a healthy corporate mental health environment, the full research report, “An Exploratory Study of How Millennials Approach and Communicate Mental Health in the Workplace,” can be found here:

  • About the Author:Johanna Seitenbach

    Johanna Seitenbach

    Johanna Seitenbach is a member engagement specialist for The Conference Board. She recently completed her Master of Arts degree in Corporate Communications at The City University of New York Baru…

    Full Bio | More from Johanna Seitenbach


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