By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager
May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re publishing stories each week talking about this area with accounting and health professionals. Read the feature story on mental health in the accounting profession in the May/June issue of CPA Voice, out at the end of May.
Although self-care is a valuable part of maintaining mental health, organizations have an opportunity to play a supportive role as well, said one mental health expert.
“Maintaining mental health needs to not just be a plan of things that you do for yourself, it has to also exist on organizational levels, too,” said Julie Frischkorn, director of behavioral health and mindfulness at Spark360.
Frischkorn said work can be an important part of a person’s identity considering the amount of time and dedication people give to their careers. And because of that, an employer’s policies and culture can have a significant impact on staff mental health.
The level of commitment an organization gives to mental health can vary, but Frischkorn said there are numerous ways to begin support staff in this area. It could be more formal pathways such as dedicated resource groups or informal, like regular lunch outings with colleagues to check in. Being able to direct staff to HR or outside resources can also be helpful, as long asif the employee knows their employer supports them.
“These are an opportunity for people to talk about what's working, what's not working, how people are feeling and how they're doing,” she said. “And for leadership to continue to keep their finger on the pulse of how their employees are feeling and what they need.”
And while the pandemic has meant companies adjusting to more people working remotely, it’s also been an opportunity for people to talk about their mental health in a way they weren’t before.
“It's reduced some of the stigma for individuals in being able to talk about mental health,” Frischkorn said.
People are accustomed to talking about their physical health, she said, but less so about mental health. With more people staying at home throughout the pandemic and feeling isolated, mental health check-ins have become crucial.
“I hope that this has created enough of a shift that people continue to talk about and mobilize around mental health,” Frischkorn said. “And allow it to be something that is a workplace initiative that people can talk more openly about it.”