It’s one full month of the year, specifically allocated to highlighting the struggles we face when it comes to our mental health, as well as the multitude of stigmas attached. And in case you didn’t realize, May is right around the corner.
This raises the question of how to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month at work. One of our favorite ways is by sending each of your employees a Mindfulness Box this year!
Do you plan an educational wellness event or a mindfulness activity?
Maybe find speakers interested in sharing information on some of the free mental health support services and facilities available to them. There are countless education programs, mental health awareness activities, and self-care professionals out there to choose from.
But you don’t want to just throw an event together for the sake of checking a box. This topic is serious – impacting millions of Americans each day – and deserves its due respect.
To help get you started on your plan for coordinating some stellar mental health activities, we’ve collected 18 positively purposeful Mental Health Awareness Month ideas for work. Try one or plan a few each week to take an active role in educating and genuinely supporting your employees’ mental health.
What is Mental Health Awareness Month?
Mental Health Awareness Month is one full month each year that’s dedicated to shining a spotlight on mental health conditions, concerns, disabilities, and treatments. It’s 31 days committed to educating, having genuine conversations, and opening up about how these issues affect us.
When is Mental Health Awareness Month in 2022?
The entire month of May is considered Mental Health Awareness Month. It’s 31 days / 744 hours / 44,640 minutes / 2,678,400 seconds packed with education, ideas, stories, and supportive conversations.
Is your team is hybrid or fully remote? We have you covered
18 Ways To Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month At Work
1 Institute a no-contact time after work
Decompressing from the day is often overlooked and frankly, undervalued. Having just 10-15 minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time after work can be a cathartic reset – even better than happy hour. No phone. No notifications. No interruptions. Spend this time listening to music, meditating, reading, or whatever it is that soothes the soul and eases the mind.
How this idea supports mental health at work: We tend to feel that we’re “too busy” to take a time-out. But sometimes, that’s exactly what’s necessary – little pauses to help digest the day so tomorrow isn’t as clouded.
Tip: Encourage your employees to take the time to work on their mental health with these self-care printable activities.
2 Send out mindfulness care packages
Being mindful isn’t always instinctual. Sometimes we need a little help to separate from everything going on around us. That’s just where this self-care toolkit comes into play. The employee care experts at Caroo even curate care packages like the Mindfulness Box and the Unplugged Box to help employees recharge after a long day of work.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Having healthy snacks on hand helps beat those daily slumps that can make our minds wander. And the notebook also included in the Mindfulness Box can be used to journal heavy thoughts or keep track of the responsibilities that may feel overwhelming.
3 Create an employee recognition thread on your company’s recognition platform
Acknowledgments no matter how large or small, improve morale, increase engagement, and contribute to positive mental health. Employees who are shown appreciation feel more valued, and valued employees are happier. An employee recognition thread allows everyone to infuse a little appreciation into their workday and let each other know how they impact others.
How this idea supports mental health at work: According to the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, recognition is one of thirteen contributing factors to employees’ psychological health in the workplace. That’s a pretty direct connection.
Tip: You can send your team members recognition points via a platform like Bonusly that they can redeem for real-life prizes!
4 Zen out with a Tea and Mindfulness Experience
Refocus and destress your team members as you whisk them away from their stressful day-to-day responsibilities to relaxed tranquility with Unboxed Experiences’ Guided Tea & Mindfulness Experience. Participants will learn to brew and taste 3-6 globally sourced loose-leaf and flowering teas as they experience a guided mindful eating exercise and goal-setting meditation.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Tea has powerful anti-anxiety effects that can help reduce stress, improve moods, and induce relaxation. Guided mindfulness tastings are fun and can enhance collaboration amongst teams by creating shared experiences. Staff will love receiving branded tea tasting and wellness kits to their homes or workplace prior to their virtual event.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, Unboxed Experiences is donating fees from its Tea & Mindfulness Experience to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a leading nonprofit advocacy group for individuals affected by mental illness.
5 Delete Slack off your phone for May
Slack notifications can be incessant. And if you’re in multiple groups, those notifications could be the soundtrack of your day. Taking a break from the “dings” and conversations can be a nice little reset.
How this idea supports mental health at work: The need to constantly check your notifications is super distracting. When you can focus clearly, things around you aren’t as overwhelming. You can also support your employees and their mental health with this Work Life Balance Kit.
6 Plan a “bring your dog to work” day
Petting a dog releases oxytocin in the brain, which decreases stress levels and initiates an overall feeling of happiness. Sure, it may take some coordination, depending on allergies, how many of your employees have dogs, & how well they play with others. But bringing pets to work, even for just one day, can be a total game-changer.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Having pets in the workplace has been proven to improve moods and increase positivity in employees.
7 Create a #gratitudewall Slack channel
Turns out, that expressing appreciation in the workplace is just as beneficial as receiving it. On the #gratitude-wall, employees can post their messages of “thanks” to be shared with their team members. Just download the Gratitude app to your Slack channel and start circulating gratitude in your team.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Employees who express gratitude are found to be more enthusiastic, determined, and optimistic. Making and keeping employees happy is good for both the individuals’ mental health and your organization.
8 Go on a walk around the neighborhood with your team
This suggestion pays off in layers. You get the obvious health benefits of the walk itself, but your team also gets the chance to chat and connect outside of the office. These walks can help with stress reduction to avoid burnout and some of the other side effects of carrying the weight of the day.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Walking simultaneously provides the contradicting benefits of relaxation and regeneration. A quick trip around the block at lunchtime can reduce anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
9 Get lunch as a team
Breaking bread as a group is an age-old team-building exercise. Get everyone out of the office for some casual conversations that don’t include topics like contracts and deadlines. These simple outings could be a priceless monthly (or even weekly) addition to your wellness plan.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Team lunches cultivate camaraderie and those friendships make an impact on our overall wellbeing. Working with friends beats the alternative any day of the week.
10 Throw a watercolor paint party
Participating in artistic activities is well-known to be beneficial to our mental health. Getting into a creative mindset offers emotionally therapeutic properties that can quiet the noise and pause the chaos. Watercolors are especially peaceful in that their hues actually trigger calm, relaxing feelings in the brain.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Painting shifts focus, allowing our brain to slow down and disconnect from the things that disturb our peace. This mindfulness exercise reduces stress, promotes emotional stability, and sharpens memory and concentration. You can even book a host to lead your team through a watercolor paint night!
11 Give out a wellness-inspired gift
What is a wellness-inspired gift? Consider these to be anything that can help your receiver relax and find a little zen. Some ideas may be a new yoga mat, an inspiring book, meditation candles, or a gift card for a spa treatment of their choosing.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Personalizing these gifts creates an extra thoughtful connection. These gestures let your employees know you see them, you’re listening, and you care.
Caroo offers a huge catalog of wellness-inspired gifts that can be sent to the office or shipped directly to employees’ doorsteps. Make Mental Health Awareness Month a time to gift coworkers a little bit of wellness swag this May!
12 Rose, Bud, Thorn exercise at a meeting
It’s often easy to carry the stress from work home with us, then pile on the stress from home and bring it back into work. This group activity allows your team to assess their environment and provide feedback on what’s working for them and what’s not. Making small changes can have a big impact on the team dynamic, as well as the individuals’ mental health.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Giving employees a voice concerning how their work affects their concentration and productivity can reduce or eliminate some of their day-to-day pain points. The University of Colorado, Boulder has broken down the aspects of this exercise for you to plan at your next meeting in May.
13 Disconnect from social media
Countless studies have linked social media use to mental health issues. It’s been associated with anxiety, depression, lack of sleep, academic decline, and memory loss. Disconnecting sets solid boundaries improves moods and productivity, and can ultimately lead to a more satisfied, accomplished performance.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Curbing the FOMO during the workday can help avoid distractions that cause some (or all) of the conditions listed above. Tuning out will improve focus and free up time to spend on important tasks.
14 Host a mental health awareness workshop
You very well may have employees who have never been involved in any conversations about mental health. So many people battle with thoughts or feelings they can’t explain because they don’t know what they don’t know. Hosting an awareness workshop can educate your employees and possibly answer some questions they didn’t even know they had.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Knowledge is power. Educating your employees is the first step in helping them identify any potential mental health issues of their own or even within their family dynamics.
15 Virtual pet show and tell
If bringing pets to work isn’t an option, a virtual pet show is the next best thing. Allow everyone to brag about their fur babies, scaly sweethearts, feathered friends, and all the other pets they care for daily.
How this idea supports mental health at work: This is an opportunity for everyone to 1) get to know each a little better, support deeper work relationships, and 2) unplug from work conversations to speak on a topic we already know can be beneficial to our mental health. PETS!
16 Plan a meditation class for employees
Providing an opportunity for some quiet time amidst the daily storms can be a game-changer. Meditation provides balance and stabilizes emotions so when things get crazy, your stressors are not as heavy as they could be. Just a few minutes a day delivers hours of mental health benefits.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Meditation programs in the workplace improve employee moods, reduce stress, and improve job satisfaction. Group sessions enhance collaboration amongst coworkers and promote better working relationships.
17 Coffee & chat time
Similar to a water cooler chat but with coffee. Taking 10 minutes out of the day to chit-chat over a latte can be just enough to rejuvenate the brain. Discussing which network series to binge next or the newest restaurants opening this weekend while sipping on something creamy and caffeinated, is time well spent in the workplace.
How this idea supports mental health at work: The logical and decision-making part of the brain becomes fatigued just like the rest of our body if not given a break. Avoiding this burn-out can improve motivation and calm anxiety.
18 Order breakfast for the team
Despite the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, what we eat matters just a little more. Avocado toast, gourmet oatmeal, and yogurt smoothies are great examples of shareable, mood-balancing brain food. Providing a hearty yet healthy breakfast for your team is good for the body, mind, and spirit.
How this idea supports mental health at work: What we put into our bodies can impact our mental health long-term. The foods we eat play a huge part in determining our moods and our mental and emotional balances.
Bonus Plan a field day or outdoor team-building activity
FIELD TRIP! Get everyone out of the office and into something fun and engaging. Go hiking. Or maybe test your teamwork in an escape room. Building trust and strengthening ties within your team benefit everyone in the end. Considering the number of hours spent together, it’s more enjoyable and less stressful to be there with people we trust and feel supported by.
How this idea supports mental health at work: Team-building activities build stronger bonds between colleagues and support healthy cross-functional relationships.
With the rise of employee care as a topic at the forefront of HR professionals across the world, it has become clear that we have raised the volume of these conversations.
In late 2021, a survey of 322 US employers revealed that 86% of them believed helping employees address stress, anxiety, and their overall mental health was or should be a priority, particularly due to the lingering effects of the pandemic. At that time, however, 49% of those still had not designed or implemented any type of formal mental health strategy or corporate wellness program in the workplace for the coming year.
If you happen to be part of that 49%, don’t panic!
Mental health screenings, stress management discussions, and wellness programs are great ideas for taking care (and controlling) of our mental health, as well as providing mental health support to your employees.
These suggestions can help everyone feel more comfortable about their personal situations and also gives them the ability to recognize they’re not alone.