May is mental health awareness month – an issue that has implications on individuals as well as the organizations they work for. The importance of mental health and the employee is a frequently discussed topic in the field of HR. Does the employer have a responsibility for their employees’ mental health? How can offering mental health benefits help the organization? Although there are multiple perspectives, there are some ways that the employer can help support their employees through difficult times.

One common and inexpensive benefit that the vast majority of organizations provide to their employees is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Yes, MINES and Associates is an EAP provider, and as such we see the issues that come to the table: low morale, family conflicts, substance abuse, and financial stressors to name a few. We also hear success stories of employees completing their counseling sessions and feeling that many areas of their lives have improved – including their job! Being the HR specialist of an organization which provides EAP services, it was easy to see where the value of an EAP lies. When an employee comes to you with a problem or suspicions of a mental illness, it’s reassuring to know that as an HR specialist, you have a great resource available where you can refer employees to clinicians that are better suited to help with these sorts of problems.

In addition to an EAP, there are other ways that you can regularly support your employees. Some benefits that our employees greatly appreciate include generous time off, the ability to work remotely, and encouraged open-communication. During times of stress, employees tend to appreciate time off to deal with personal matters. Working remotely allows the employee flexibility in their work. Finally, open-communication allows employees to bring forth concerns and needs without fear of reprisal. Your employees are the greatest asset of the company – show them that you care and support them!

Daniél C. Kimlinger, MHA
Human Resources Specialist