Mind, Body, Soul: Compassionately Confronting Mental and Emotional Health in the Workplace
Few would dispute that there is a mental health crisis in our society. One in five Americans live with a mental health condition, which amounts to nearly 50 million people.[i] But perhaps even more disturbing is that mental health remains heavily stigmatized – despite these statistics. A lack of compassion for mental and emotional health disorders can have serious downstream effects. Sufferers are much less inclined to seek out treatment even if the condition is treatable like depression and anxiety.
In recognition of these societal realities, Alliant National recently conducted a “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative. Led by Stacy Stolen, Alliant National’s HR Manager, the program seeks to address the full spectrum of employee needs, while pushing back on mental health stigmas and promoting inclusive conversations at Alliant National. The results were, and continue to be, quite positive.
Mind, Body, Soul – The Six Dimensions of Health
Stolen says the “Mind, Body, Soul” initiative highlights and addresses six dimensions of employee health:
Now, you may be thinking, “Isn’t this program geared toward mental health?” It’s a fair question, but the truth is all aspects of health are interrelated. Physical, social, economic and career circumstances will impact mental and emotional well-being. By discussing the different pillars that contribute to wellness, it makes it easier to act and begin healing, Stolen says.
Whether that be finding programs to help deal with difficult emotions or making changes around the workplace to promote mental health and wellness, you must first have the right conception of the full spectrum of human needs. Only then can you start making changes to feel more healthy, supportive and whole.
Putting it Into Practice
While taking a granular approach to wellness is important, it must also be paired with action. “Mind, Body, Soul” also promotes different actions employees can take to nurture their well-being:
- Take breaks: The restorative power of a break is not to be underestimated. Whether you decide to walk your dog or do a 10-minute yoga video, a periodic break can reduce stress and improve productivity.
- Take time off: Employees should be encouraged to take their allotted time off. Stolen said it is sometimes hard to remember that the world will not fall apart if you take time off, even if it can be tempting to think so. That’s a common misperception in our society, as statistics show that more than half of all workers do not take the time to which they are entitled.[ii]
- Set boundaries: Setting boundaries between your workday and your personal time can help avoid burnout. It’s a mistake to discount the importance of taking time for yourself, as well as your family and friends.
- Lunch-and-Learns: Stolen noted that “Lunch-and-Learns” are a great way to help teams connect and collaborate.Alliant National hosts lunch and learns featuring guest speakers, and employees have a chance to check in with one another – both as people and professionals.
- Health Resources: Companies looking to promote employee wellbeing may also consider potential vendor resources. Modern Health is Alliant National’s employee welfare platform. Employees can listen to community sessions led by therapists and coaches and ask questions in real time.
How Did the Alliant National Team Respond?
Reflecting on the initiative, Stolen was struck by the amount of positive feedback received from Alliant National team members: “We heard from many employees that they were surprised that we ‘cared’ enough to focus on [‘Mind, Body, Soul’] versus bottom line numbers.”
Similarly, she was taken aback by how quickly Alliant National personnel began reaching out to leverage resources made available to them through their employee status. “I received many phone calls asking for help or advice. The calls included everything from asking where our Employee Assistance (EAP) is located, to inquiring about how to best approach a conversation with a supervisor, to requesting help with navigating health care plans,” Stolen says. “I think it speaks to the fact that we are creating a safe space for people to have inclusive conversations and address their psychological needs. Historically, mental and emotional health is a hard topic for employees to comfortably discuss.”
A Larger Trend and a Personal Mission
Initiatives like “Mind, Body, Soul” did not develop in a vacuum. Instead, they reflect long-running trends in the HR field and the workforce more generally – especially following the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise of the remote work era. “The workforce has changed significantly,” Stolen says. “Employees are demanding that their companies take a more holistic approach to wellness, and I agree!”
It’s also important to note that supporting the entirety of every employee’s needs is not only the right thing to do; it also makes good business sense. “If we do not treat the employee as a three-dimensional being whose needs encompass six distinct categories, we will not recruit and retain top talent,” Stolen says. “Employers not only need to create a workplace that offers growth and opportunity, but one that nourishes the employee in mind, body and spirit.”
For Stolen, “Mind, Body, Soul” is also personal. “To me, HR means ‘Human and Resourceful.’ I aspire to serve all employees at all levels of their being,” she said. “Employees need to be able to embody their entire selves at work – which naturally means creating an environment that’s diverse and inclusive. A healthy and happy employee is an engaged and productive one.”
Interested in discussing employee well-being strategies for your organization? Reach out to Stacy – firstname.lastname@example.org
[i] Mental Health Awareness Month – 2022 – District Health Department 10 (dhd10.org)