Connecting Mental Health and DEI Initiatives for a Healthier Workplace

The last two years have taken a toll on our mental health. The pandemic, civil unrest and even war have changed circumstances and lives faster than the world has been able to adapt to or cope with.

COVID-19 alone has had a significant impact on our well-being and is one of the driving forces of mental health-related issues. According to the World Health Organization, cases of anxiety and depression have increased by over 25% across the world. Everyone has taken notice; from nonprofits to corporate giants, companies are striving to include new initiatives that educate teams about the importance of mental health and implement positive changes.

This May during Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re joining in by emphasizing mental health awareness while highlighting its connection with diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

Merging your mental health initiatives with your DEI strategy increases the likelihood of a heathy workplace environment. By exposing underlying problems, prioritizing new opportunities, targeting your measures and specifying your expectations, organizations can help ensure employees from diverse backgrounds aren’t facing stressors that impact their mental health at work.

Here are some tips for incorporating mental health and DEI initiatives into your organization’s strategy:

Offer multiple channels to connect. Some employees might feel comfortable discussing mental health and DEI initiatives in a group setting, while others feel more at ease using digital resources. Offering a variety of channels increases the likelihood of your team’s participation and engagement.

Communicate and celebrate differences. Mental health looks different for everyone. Communication brings clarity, opportunity and development. To incorporate authentic change in your workplace — regardless of your title, background or seniority level — communicate what you see, feel and expect. Be open to listening and have the courage to share.

Be intentional. When you’re aware of workplace inclusion in your day-to-day operations, you may discover attitudes, beliefs and backgrounds that differ from or reaffirm your own. By being exposed to new ways of thinking, you open yourself up to other perspectives.

It’s clear that recent events have negatively impacted mental health and wellness. The good news? They also have singlehandedly driven the increase in DEI and mental health awareness initiatives in the workplace. Mental health matters and DEI strategies are here to stay!