Rachel Cooper is a writer and creative based in Kansas City, Missouri. She's also cofounder of Read Poetry, an online platform and community dedicated to modern poetry and its role in today's society.
Self-care is on the rise, receiving praise and criticism every day. But self-care goes beyond a trendy face mask or a bubble bath; it’s about maintaining your mental health in all areas of your life—even at work.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in four adults has a mental illness, which means that 25 percent of employees in any company at any time could be struggling with their mental health. To zero in on why that’s important to women in particular, a 2018 study showed women are more likely to suffer from work-related burnout than men. Self-care and mental health awareness are important components in helping employees, especially women who bear the brunt of the burden at home, live happier, more balanced lives.
In the past, because of stigmas surrounding mental health, many employees haven’t sought out the care they needed, and their work likely suffered because of it (not to mention many companies had higher turnover rates because of burned out employees).
But today’s workforce is more open-minded than it used to be. Outside the office, younger generations have touted the benefits of therapy, and their stamp of approval has shifted the way we talk about mental health needs in our workforce.
These six companies are keeping with the times by making mental illness and self-care priorities at the office.
Recently, Adobe partnered with Aetna and Kaiser, two giants in the insurance world, to bring behavioral health services to the forefront of its health plans. These benefits include:
Up to 90 percent coverage of mental health services
CareKits for pregnant employees
Counseling for individuals and couples
Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) often have the best of intentions when it comes to covering employees but also tend to fall short when it comes to mental health services.
This is why American Express rebranded and revamped their EAP to prioritize Healthy Minds, which is also the name of their new EAP. Now, American Express provides a slew of benefits for its employees, including:
Mental health counselors on-site at all 20 offices around the world
A clinical psychologist who runs Healthy Minds, always looking for ways to improve its services
One EAP vendor serving the entirety of American Express’s employee clinics
Away is a travel company that gives its employees what it sells—travel. From flexible PTO to team trips, Away employees are encouraged to be active, relax, and take frequent vacations.
They also host regular wellness days during busy seasons where employees can enjoy massages, healthy snacks, and more.
The best part? They have a dog-friendly office. What says self-care more than puppy kisses?
DigitalOcean is “a tech company that simplifies cloud computing for developers,” but outside the development world, they focus on staying active and giving generously. They offer:
Sports leagues and fitness groups
A $100 monthly gym reimbursement for all of their employees
In addition to physical activity, DigitalOcean prioritizes giving back, which is its own kind of self-care. They have an in-house program called DO Good, which raised $83,997 for 171 nonprofits in 2018.
In 2019, they plan to provide expanding holistic resources for their employees and develop a dialogue around mental, emotional, and financial health.
EY, formerly Ernst & Young, brought all of their crucial teams together to discuss self-care in the office. Not only did they consult senior leadership, but they also enlisted their HR, Diversity and Inclusion, and Communications departments to get the ball rolling.
Out of these discussions came the “r u ok?” program, which allows employees to educate themselves about mental health and self-care in a way that makes sense for them. With everything from one-on-one peer-counseling to events to a 24/7 helpline, EY’s employees are ending the stigma surrounding mental illness.
And they attribute their success to the transparency of leadership. If employees see their superiors talking about their own struggles with mental health and the importance of self-care, they will be empowered to do so also.
Read more: Self-Care for the 50+ Hour Work Week
Sharon Solliday, CEO of The Hello Foundation founded her company on four core values:
Putting kids first
Practicing work-life balance
Providing quality services to clients
Like EY, Solliday vows to lead by example by being honest about when she needs to take a break and take care of her mental health. She offers her employees the flexibility to work remotely and take unlimited leave in addition to utilizing health insurance that covers mental health services and alternative care.
There are many ways to prioritize self-care both as an employer and employee. A great way to start is to do what these companies are doing and look at the resources you have already. How can you improve them to prioritize mental health and self-care? What makes the most sense for your office culture?
Maybe it’s yoga; maybe it’s health benefits. No matter the solution, it’s important to empower your employees to take good care of themselves.