Yoga and healthy snacks are not the answer
Yoga and meditation classes. Wellness challenges. Healthy snack offerings. In recent years, many employers have implemented “workplace wellness” initiatives to attract and retain employees, increase engagement, and reduce health care costs. However, while perks can contribute to wellness, they are only a small part of a larger set of factors that lead to loyal and engaged employees.
Putting vision into action: launching the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health
Mental Health America (MHA) envisions a nation where the average American workplace understands the value of addressing mental health at work and implements policies and practices that support employee well-being. To help employees choose mentally healthy workplaces, MHA has created the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health – a first-of-its-kind national certification program to recognize and guide employers who are committed to supporting staff mental health. The program launched in November 2019.
Creating the evidence base
In preparation for this major innovation in America’s workplace mental health movement, with support from the Faas Foundation, MHA embarked on research projects analyzing over 17,000 employee surveys across 19 industries in the United States and published the first report of its kind on the experience of US workers, the Workplace Wellness Report: Mind the Workplace 2018.
Last year, MHA released the second edition of the Workplace Wellness Report: Mind the Workplace 2019. The 2019 Work Health Survey measured the attitudes and perceptions of nearly 10,000 employees in the US. Survey questions explored topics of supervisor communication, company culture, employee engagement and well-being.
Findings revealed important new data about relationships between managerial style, workplace health, and employee engagement–concepts that have, in recent years, become more measurable, and indicative of workplace stress levels and overall mental health.
Troubling employee data helped guide design of the Bell Seal assessment
Troubling was the impact of negative workplace culture, with 54% of people reporting that they were not comfortable reporting dishonest or unfair practices to human resources or management; 60% decided it was safer to remain silent than to voice their opinion on improvements; and 55% reported they were afraid to take the day off to tend to their mental health.
Paul Gionfriddo, MHA’s President and CEO, stated that “We created the Bell Seal to recognize those special employers who already make the mental health of their employees a priority, and to offer practical guidance and tools to all employers who want to know how to improve employee mental health.”
With nearly forty years of workplace mental health experience coupled with recent study findings, MHA identified five categories that are essential to creating mentally healthy workplaces and which form the base of the Bell Seal assessment: workplace culture, health insurance and other benefits, wellness programs and perks, legal compliance, and leadership and community engagement.
The Bell Seal provides employers practical guidance & concrete recommendations
Many existing healthy workplace programs already address physical wellness and some aspects of mental wellness. The core purpose of the Bell Seal is to engage employers to focus on the factors that acutely pertain to mentally healthy workplaces and to provide concrete recommendations and guidance on areas that can be improved. It offers comprehensive and practical advice on how to evaluate and improve their policies, practices, and programs that impact employee well-being. Because of this rigorous approach, employees seeking mentally health workplaces can trust a Bell Seal employer.
The Bell Seal is more than a recognition program
Companies who apply for MHA’s Bell Seal can learn about, promote, and improve upon the overall mental wellness of their workplaces–and truly create environments for staff that are supportive and psychologically safe. The Bell Seal is more than a recognition program; it is a road map to healthier American workplaces and employees.
Mental Health America (MHA) – found in 1909 – is the nation’s leading community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. Guided by our Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4) philosophy, we believe that mental health conditions should be treated long before they the most critical points in the disease process through prevention and early intervention, including in workplace settings.
About the author
Taylor Adams is the Manager of Workplace Mental Health and Program Manager for the Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health at Mental Health America. She previously served as Manager of Programs and Operations and as Board Liaison. Prior to working at MHA, Taylor was a Public Policy Assistant for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She graduated from Stockton University with a degree in Sociology and Anthropology. Inspired by personal experiences, she is passionate about mental health and advocacy.