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How To Protect Your Mental Health, While Supporting Employee’s Mental Health

How To Protect Your Mental Health, While Supporting Employee’s Mental Health

How To Protect Your Mental Health, While Supporting Employee’s Mental Health

From our friends at Businessolver, written by Sarah Warren

When you’re supporting your organization, who’s supporting you?

What’s Happening

HR wears a lot of hats. One of them is being tasked with the emotional labor that often goes unseen in the workplace. You can’t control what is happening in employees’ lives and sometimes that uncertainty and surprise they are feeling may become part of your role in supporting what they are going through.  Taking on others’ emotions, stress and hardship leads to your own stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue.

Communicate

Mental health support resources like EAP (Employee Assistance Program) have become more of an expectation. But let’s ask ourselves, is it being used? Employees might not be using your EAP because they think it’s not anonymous (even when you reassure them it is). Or they might not know how to access it. Or what the right circumstances are to use it. Communicate the purpose and instructions for EAP and other mental health resources early and often this Mental Health Awareness Month.

Connect the dots

Think about the sources of mental stress: finances, divorce, trauma, family, world stability, etc. In a post-COVID world, collective trauma and economic shock also still exist. Then, enter the complexity of humans and different people needing different things to cope, communicate, and heal.  

It can be challenging for the employee to get the help they need and in the way that they need it. Enter you. If you’re faced with the challenge of someone coming to you with a serious mental health problem, offering them a benefit that is personal to their situation would be both professionally acceptable and empathetic. It shows you’re listening, and you care about them getting the help they need and how they need it.

Dare to self-care

I know for myself as an HR professional along with many of my peers, we got into this role because we enjoy helping people. So, it’s hard to set boundaries because you don’t want to let someone down. And, if someone is coming to HR, and at least in my role on the benefits side, it’s not necessarily because they’re in their best place. I’ve been pulled into a lot of tough conversations with employees. For example, there’s either an emergency with something that’s going on with their benefits, or they’re struggling either with their mental health or because they have some sort of situation where they might need to take time off on a leave of absence. And, if they have something else going on outside of work that is impacting their work, they really need us as an ally and to be a support system for them.

Which makes it really hard to say, “I’m not available right now.” But it’s important to set boundaries and unplug at the end of the day, take lunch away from your desk, or turn off your email notifications while you are on vacation. Don’t forget to use the benefits we offer to our people for ourselves. They are helpful and allow us to be a better advocate for the benefits we have available. And I know, easier said than done, especially since our first instinct is to put everyone’s needs before your own. But it’s so important to have healthy boundaries. You can’t be as helpful to your employees if you are drained yourself.

Stay resilient 

HR is a fast-paced industry. You’re up against constant deadlines, project management, and switching hats. But there are actions you can take to empower yourself; keep learning and listen to what you need. Continuous learning develops tools in your toolbox no one can take them from you. It equips you with the knowledge to understand, know what you need, and help others start on the journey to find what they need.

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