It’s May, which means it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. It is a national movement observed to emphasize the importance of mental health and shed light on the plight of millions of Americans who live with a mental illness.
About Mental Health Awareness Month
Mental Health Awareness Month was first advocated for by Mental Health America, a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting overall mental health. It has been observed every month of May since its inception 73 years ago.
The goal of the month-long event is to educate the general public about mental illness and take steps to ensure that it is no longer a taboo topic.
According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one in five adults in the U.S. experience mental illness—about 53 million people.
Given these numbers, Mental Health Awareness month must be celebrated in homes, local communities, and even workplaces. With millions of employees experiencing workplace stress and burnout, emphasizing people’s mental and emotional well-being is more important than ever.
Celebrating Mental Health Awareness Month at work demonstrates the empathy and care that many employees need right now. It is an important step that can help combat the isolation and stress that workers may be living with every day.
Observing Mental Health Awareness Month at work need not be splashy or action-packed. There are many simple, creative, and effective ways to open up the conversation about the importance of mental health at work.
We’ve listed 15 of them below:
15 Creative Ways to Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month at Work
Mental health is a serious matter, but this doesn’t mean all activities have to be solemn. This list of activities contains both serious and fun ways to raise awareness and foster care and empathy in your workplace
1. Have a Chat
Set aside time for the whole organization to listen to a professional talk about the importance of mental health.
After the talk, open up the floor for those comfortable discussing their own experiences firsthand. This is a great way for employees to get to know one another and begin to have these types of conversations.
2. Send a Wellness Care Package
If your office is still completely remote, you can send a care package to all your employees as a reminder that they should take care of themselves.
The list of things you could put in a wellness care package is endless. If you want some ideas, here are some of them:
- Soothing scented candles
- Essential oils
- Organic snacks
- Books or pamphlets about mental health
3. Exchange Positive Affirmations
You can do this at work, whether you are physically in the office or working from home. You may be used to hearing constructive criticism in the office, whether from a supervisor or colleague.
Dedicating a day to positive affirmations is an essential step to boosting workers’ mental health and overall morale. There is power behind positive affirmation as it can improve a person’s self-esteem and mindset about work.
Give your workers time and space to share positive affirmations. This can go on for the entire month, or better yet, create a culture of positive affirmation in the office.
4. Hold a Stress-Reduction Workshop
Everyone experiences stress, but some people are better at dealing with it than others. There are many tips and tricks to reduce stress at work, and you can invite an expert to lead a workshop in the office to help employees firsthand.
Holding a stress-reduction workshop will ensure that people are armed with the right knowledge to mitigate stress and anxiety at work and even in their personal lives.
5. Host a Book Club Session
Setting aside 30 minutes each day during Mental Health Awareness Month to read a book about mental health can do wonders for employees.
Hosting a book club to discuss the book can be an easy gateway to begin discussing personal mental health struggles.
6. Host a Poster-Making Contest
Creative pursuits are excellent outlets for expression, especially for adults in the workplace. A simple poster-making contest centered on mental health themes can do wonders to spread awareness and inspire critical thinking and deep conversations.
This can be done in groups or individually, whether people are working remotely or in person. The posters can be judged by a small team of employees or shared on social media and the one with the most likes wins.
7. Go Outside
Schedule a day where everyone will get out of the office and spend time outdoors. Make the outing as fun and memorable as possible—field trips aren’t just for kids!
Time with nature can improve a person’s mental health. A fun company outing is a great way to demonstrate the importance of fresh air and the positive psychological effects of spending time outdoors.
You can have a picnic in a nearby park and play silly children’s games. Or you could split into teams and play an outdoor sport, such as soccer or baseball. Even a simple walk around a nearby pocket forest or stream will do the trick. Allocate a day to prioritize your employees’ mental health. They will be grateful, and it will be worth it.
8. Create a De-Stressing Corner
Devote a corner in the office where employees can sit and de-stress. There are different ways people can do so: some may want to doodle on sketchbooks, while others prefer to sit quietly and read.
Conduct an employee survey and ask what accessories they would want to see in your de-stressing corner. Crocheting tools, stress balls, puzzles, board games, and other tools can do wonders for a bit of a de-stress period in the middle of a workday.
9. Provide Screening Tools
Many people may not be aware that they are experiencing mental health issues. It would be a good idea to have a screening tool available for employees to take a moment and check themselves. The result should be confidential, of course. If an employee does discover an issue, then the company should be able to provide assistance.
Some screening tools are available online.
10. Bring Pets to Work
Interacting with pets can significantly lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone. Schedule a day where employees can bring their pets to the office. Your company can also partner with a local animal shelter to bring adoptable animals to your workplace so everyone can spend some time relaxing with them.
11. Start an Interactive Message Board
Most companies have their own internal messaging systems. Still, a dedicated board where employees can write or share personal messages and positive affirmations can be a great way to build bonds and encourage openness at work.
Your message board can push workers to step away from the computer and social media for a bit. The latter has been found to have an impact on a person’s mental health as it could lead to anxiety or depression.
12. Be Active Together
Schedule a day where the entire office can exercise together. Exercise is great for the body, but it’s also important for mental health. Physical activity releases endorphins and serotonin, which help improve one’s mood.
Exercising together can be incredibly fun and build social bonds among colleagues and co-workers.
13. Meditate Together
There are many benefits to meditation. It can help people cope with stress and reduce anxiety and depression. Even just a few minutes of daily mindfulness can significantly improve self-esteem and self-awareness.
Meditation can be done individually, but it can also be done with a group. You can bring in a meditation facilitator to teach employees how to meditate the right way.
14. Have a Tea Party
Certain types of tea can be beneficial physically and mentally. Scientists believe that green tea has positive effects on a person’s mental health. So, why not host a green tea party in the office? You can sip tea while chatting about each other’s personal lives. This downtime and bonding, combined with soothing cups of tea, can do wonders for employees’ goodwill and mental health.
15. Have a Trivia Day
Trivia games can help foster healthy competitiveness in the workplace. Schedule a trivia day where employees can compete in groups and earn great prizes. Competing or even just watching a competition can be incredibly fun and relaxing and an excellent way to spend a bit of downtime together.
Mental Health Events at Work
Twenty percent of American adults experience mental health issues. It’s worth noting that 63% of adults in the U.S. are part of the workforce. It is a given that some of the employees at work are experiencing difficulties even if they seem perfectly well on the surface.
This is why management must implement wellness programs to ensure that employees are mentally healthy. These activities are appropriate for the celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, and you can even apply them to become regular activities beyond the month of May.