Whether your company is large or small, all employers have the opportunity to reduce stigma and educate employees about mental health, benefits, and available resources by hosting mental health events or activities. Here are 11 tips for planning your next mental health event:
- Start small. If your company already hosts annual events for employees, choose an event that best aligns with wellness and incorporate mental health topics or activities such as hosting a stress management session or encouraging employees to take a mental health screening.
- Start with resources you already have. If your company has a mental health employee resource group or task force, ask if they would be interested in brainstorming and planning the event.
- Think about the theme. Choose a topic or theme for the event to help your company decide what type of activities and partners should be included in the planning process. For example, your company can host a “Destress Fest” that includes activities such as yoga and meditation and partners who specialize in stress management or work-life balance.
- Think about timing. Pick a date that aligns with mental health awareness months such as Mental Health Month (May), Pride Month or Men’s Mental Health Month (June), BIPOC Mental Health Month (July), or Suicide Prevention Month (September). To help spread the word about your event, MHA develops several toolkits per year to help promote mental health awareness and information available to the public at no-cost.
- Prepare a budget. The amount of financial support that an employer can dedicate to an event varies greatly across company size and industry. However, planning a realistic budget and getting creative with resources can lead to a successful event. Leverage existing partnerships with health-related groups your company partners or volunteers with to participate as a vendor or resource for employees.
- Make mental health accessible. Mental health is still not widely talked about in professional settings, and employees may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable with the topic altogether. Introduce mental health slowly by incorporating wellness activities such as yoga, meditation, or Zumba into your event. Explain the connection between physical and mental health to participants. It is important to treat health holistically.
- Get inspiration from your employees. Survey employees on their health interests and hobbies that help them manage their stress. An employee may even volunteer their time to host a yoga exercise, healthy cooking demonstration, or knitting for beginners.
- Market your event. When promoting the event, keep your messaging and brand consistent. This could be the event employees look forward to attending every year.
- Offer screening onsite. An easy way to get your employees to start thinking about their mental health is to offer free, anonymous, and confidential mental health screening at your event. After answering 10 to 15 questions (depending on the mental health concern), employees will receive immediate results and access to next steps.
- Promote your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and benefits. Have a representative from your EAP or HR table at the event to explain the services or benefits available to employees.
- Feed two birds with one scone. Use the event as an opportunity to host seminars or training on how to support a co-worker, how to manage stress, or emotional intelligence and its application to the workplace.
What if your company is unable to host its own mental health event? Encourage employees to attend or volunteer at mental health events hosted by the local community or national entities. Each year, MHA's Annual Conference brings together affiliates, consumers, providers, family members and advocates from across the country to talk about important and emerging mental health issues. Learn more about MHA's next Annual Conference here.