The idea of talking about stress and mental health at work might feel scary or too personal. These can be sensitive topics that require a foundation of trust and goodwill to broach, or alternatively, the support for a worker to seek external resources and assistance outside of the workplace.
However, there are ways in which employers, supervisors, and co-workers can support each other, and training is available on a variety of relevant topics. Ideally, employers should provide training for supervisors and workers to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress. Through this training, Employers, supervisors, and workers will know what to say, how to listen, and how to support others at the workplace who are struggling; learn about ways to build coping and resiliency skills; and know what avenues are available if professional help is needed either for themselves or their co-workers. Unions and worker organizations can also serve an important role in supporting workplace mental health and well-being through their member services as well as their outreach and community engagement work.
These training resources offer useful starting points for employers, supervisors, and employees:
- The National Council for Mental Wellbeing offers Mental Health First Aid, which teaches people how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illness and substance use disorders. Multiple trainings are offered (some of which are virtual), and they target different areas (e.g., workplace in general, fire and EMS sector). Train-the-trainer programs are offered for employers that wish to have a staff member become a qualified trainer and then provide training more broadly throughout the organization. Additionally, companies can work directly with NCBH to have them develop training and other resources tailored to meet the needs of their specific worksite (more details are available here).
- The QPR Institute offers a one-hour online course, QPR Gatekeeper Training, that provides insight on how to question (Q), persuade (P), and refer (R) someone who may be suicidal.
- The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers a Stress First Aid slide deck, which is a 30-minute presentation (developed for first responders) that provides a framework to improve recovery from stress reactions.