As companies realize that healthy employees are more productive, mental health support is becoming a priority for many organizations. In fact, new jobs centered around employee wellbeing have begun to pop up. These roles—which include heading wellness offices, recruiting and training therapists and designing ways to offer counseling to employees—are often filled by human resources executives who are moving beyond their traditional roles managing policies, benefits, hiring and firing.
Why a dedicated role for mental health is important for company culture
Mental health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing, and it’s become a growing concern in the corporate world. Employees are asking their employers for more support with their mental health—and those employers are listening. Growing evidence suggests that mental health issues have a significant impact on employee performance and absenteeism, leading many companies to incorporate mental wellness into their benefits packages. In response to this trend, many businesses now offer employees access to counseling services or paid time off for appointments.
As demand for mental health support grows, so does the need for new roles at companies focused on this area. Many companies are creating new positions like “director of employee experience” or “chief happiness officer” dedicated to streamlining HR programs, making them work better for employees’ needs—including those related to mental health.
Chief Mental Health Officer
You might be thinking: “What the heck is a Chief Mental Health Officer?” This new role, like its title suggests, is responsible for helping companies improve their employees’ mental health.
The role of a CMHO is to oversee a company’s mental health efforts and advise on policies that promote employee wellbeing. They are responsible for advising managers on how to support employees experiencing mental health challenges and ensuring that employees have access to resources such as therapy services. It helps if you have an HR background as well as experience with mental health issues, either personally or professionally—but ultimately, it comes down to your passion for the cause.
While the average executive earns about $200,000 per year in total compensation, the true potential of this role lies in its impact on your organization. The cost of untreated mental illness in the workplace has been estimated at $100 billion annually due to absenteeism and lost productivity.
So, if you’re interested in impacting organizational culture and want a career with meaning—and upwards mobility—consider taking up this position!
Director of Mental Health
When it comes to work, we’re used to thinking of the position of “director” as an elevated title. We might be surprised then that the most recent executive-level addition to many companies is a Director of Mental Health.
Yes, you read that correctly: A Director of Mental Health is a job where you can *make* money just by thinking about feelings! It’s like being a mental consultant for an entire organization. What does a Director of Mental Health do? Well, he, she or they oversee the emotional wellbeing and personal development of employees at said company by providing counselling services, running mindfulness programs, hiring coaching staff and trainers – basically everything needed to ensure their employees are happy and productive at work.
New Challenges for these roles
The problem with mental health in the workplace is that there aren’t any simple, one-size-fits-all solutions. That’s where mental health focused roles come in! Mental Health leaders help navigate the complicated terrain of benefits for employees’ mental health. The options for mental health benefits have exploded and employees are expecting more from their companies.
Here are some guides to start thinking about benefits that support mental health:
- Health plans and EAPs aren’t enough.
For years the standard benefits for mental health care offered by employers have been health plans and EAPs. Often these benefits have been difficult to access in times of need and underutilized. These benefits primarily offer treatment for diagnosed conditions leaving those who simply want to work on and improve their mental health with few options.
- Digital mental health is an emerging field that has been accelerated by the pandemic. This means more services are available online than ever before—right when they’re needed most.
Digital mental health companies have created opportunities across the spectrum of mental health needs. Telehealth services give access to counseling and psychiatry no matter where you live and from the comfort of your own home. Other services like digital therapeutics, meditation, and coaching offer options for those who want to improve their mental health even if they don’t have a diagnosed condition.
- Health & Wellbeing programs can be really helpful, but they’re not going to solve everything on their own.
Wellness programs are a perfect addition to the standard employee education and training offerings. Adding therapist-run courses, meditation sessions, or professional development days focused on wellness give employees the opportunity to build mental health into their professional goals. They’re not a substitute for clinical care but can show a commitment to employee mental health.
- There are other benefits that can play an important role in supporting your employees’ mental health (like paid family leave, flexible work hours, and access to financial planning tools).
Thinking about benefits like flexible work hours and working from home through the lens of mental health gives added weight to your offerings and allows employees to do what’s best for them. Even creating boundaries around outside of work hours emails and limiting meetings on certain days can help employees feel supported and decrease stress levels
Companies are creating new roles to support employees’ mental health and wellbeing.
You have to hand it to companies for getting creative in order to cater to the myriad demands of their employees. They’re offering a variety of benefits that go way beyond just health, dental, and vision—think egg freezing, onsite meditation rooms, free snacks (free!!!), and employees-only fitness classes. But some companies are going even further by developing new roles within their organization to support the mental wellbeing of their workforce.
As an employee, this is great news! You can finally bring your whole self to work and not feel like you’re constantly hiding parts of who you are. As a hiring manager or recruiter looking for top talent, or a company executive trying to increase retention rates among your team members—this is also great news! You get access to one of the most important underutilized assets your company has: its people. When you invest in your employees’ mental wellbeing and give them the space they need at work, they will reward you with maximum productivity and better performance on deliverables.