3 Ways You Should Be Thinking About Mental Health and DEI In Your Workplace

As workplaces navigate the best ways to support their employees during this time of uncertainty and the worldwide conversation on race, mental health and DEI have become central topics in the conversation around the future of work. 

Mind Share Partners, a leading national workplace mental health non-profit, partnered with Culture Amp, a premiere people and culture platform, to host a panel addressing the intersection of mental health, DEI, and considerations for inclusive workplaces. 

Mental Health And DEI Are Not Mutually Exclusive

“We have a lot of work to do as a world and as an industry in centering the experiences of folks who are living with their own trauma time and time again,” Tariq Meyers, Global Head of Belonging, Inclusion, and Employee Experience at Coinbase shared. Organizations must consider the impact of  trauma, such as the systemic police violence against the Black community, on not only employees’ productivity but their  experiences, wellbeing, and how they show up at work. DEI practitioners fundamentally must incorporate equity into their work and provide culturally responsive care and a supportive company culture. 

“We really think about mental health as being the next frontier of DEI,” shared Kelly Greenwood, founder and CEO at Mind Share Partners. While mental health experiences differ across communities, mental health is a subset of diversity in and of itself. While diversity is traditionally focused on actively recruiting for representation, mental health is actually the opposite. 80% of Americans will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime, but the pervasive stigma means that most hide their experiences. Workplaces must consider ways to foster trust, safety, inclusion, and belonging to allow employees to show up at their best such as through peer support programs or creating a mental health ERG.

Address The Underlying Workplace Factors

“Benefits, EAPS, time-off policies, and mental health days are very core, foundational resources you should have, but that’s kind of the bare minimum,” shared Wong. In addition, organizations must address the workplace factors that contribute to poor mental health through resources like manager and leadership training.

Employees won’t take advantage of benefits without leadership support and because of the fear and shame that stigma creates. “Research says that there are three main ways of reducing stigma: social connection (ideally with leaders in your organization), peer support, and education. That’s how we think about our programs at Mind Share Partners and really trying to move the needle through culture change,” Greenwood shared. 

Remote Work and Battling Multiple Pandemics: The Impact On DEI

Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, business was bound to its traditional ways of office spaces, happy hours, in-person events, and so on. Meyers shared about when his company, Coinbase, decided to transition to a remote workforce recently for the foreseeable future: “We opened up an opportunity to no longer figure out how we can inject equity into the space, but actually take more of a lens in designing what the experience could look like.” Some employees face challenges with isolation while others are facing housing issues, or even just Wi-Fi access impacting productivity. It’s important to design an employee experience that will help every employee move forward.

“If I could share just one thing to help workplace well-being, it would be to stop using the creation of money as a reason to treat human beings well,” Aubrey Blance, Director of Equitable Design & Impact at Culture Amp shared. There are many companies who will only move if the business case for DEI is made, but it’s time for companies to support DEI because it’s also the right thing to do. With the pandemic, economic uncertainty, and the racial conversation in the U.S. right now, mental health and DEI must be at the forefront of your people strategy. 

Click here for the full panel discussion.


About the author

Nina Tomaro is the Marketing & Communications Lead for Mind Share Partners, a national nonprofit that is changing the culture of workplace mental health so that both employees and organizations can thrive.

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