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The Role of Companies and HOD in Mental Healthcare

O papel das empresas e DHO no cuidado com a saúde mental

Does your company have a mental-health policy? Learn more about Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and Voxy’s high-productivity ideas.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a worldwide campaign to inform and raise awareness of suicide prevention and mental healthcare. In Brazil, for example, it is known as Setembro Amarelo (Yellow September), a campaign organized since 2015 by the Centro de Valorização da Vida (CVV), a non-profit civil society organization that offers emotional support and acts to prevent suicide.

According to data from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), WHO’s Regional Office for the Americas, close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year, a number closely linked to mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. When focusing on the workplace, data shows that in ten years the number of reports of work-related mental disorders has risen from 122 to 8621.

Against this backdrop, what can companies do to help care for the mental health of their employees?

Creating a healthy, human-oriented organizational environment

Healthy work environments promote employee well-being. They are positive, productive, and collaborative spaces that allow each person to do their job without it having a negative impact on their life.

However, with an increasingly competitive job market, maintaining a stable career, with good earnings and high productivity, often means high-stress levels. This, together with the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, has created a shift in people’s relationship with their jobs.

That’s why it’s important that companies, with the support of HR and top management, develop a healthy organizational culture that values employees, promotes work-life balance, and puts wellness policies into practice. Not only are these measures essential to employees’ health, but they will also have a positive impact on business results.

Raising awareness of mental health among employees

Breaking the taboo on mental health within the company is one of the most important steps we can take. It is key to invest in communication, talks, training, etc. to help employees learn to detect possible symptoms and prevent mental illnesses. In addition, top management and leadership must also be involved in awareness initiatives, to foster a support network within the organization.

At Voxy, we have implemented actions to raise awareness on these issues and to promote self-care practices, without losing track of each employee’s circumstances to enable personalized actions to increase well-being on a daily basis. To that end, in 2020 we restructured our benefits package to accommodate remote work and the related flexible schedules. 

We have set up a monthly budget for health and wellness expenses, and in a recent survey we saw that this has been used in a variety of ways, ranging from therapy sessions to buying skin and hair care products. We put in place a Mental Health Day, a one day off per quarter for every employee, which allows them to have a break from their work routine and encourages them to make time to look after themselves. We also started to promote monthly training sessions ― our Wellness Sessions ― which address several topics related to well-being and mental health and provide practical tips as well as moments of relaxation through desk yoga and guided meditations.

Furthermore, we recently conducted an internal survey to learn how Voxy’s employees take care of their own mental health, as well as that of others, and what tips they could offer on the subject. We had some very interesting responses, for instance:

I try to keep well-defined work hours, setting boundaries and even taking some quick breaks during the day to avoid sitting in front of the computer for long periods of time.

Make sure you stay connected with friends and family―get in touch if you haven’t spoken to them in a long time and call them on the phone or do video calls

Implementing and spreading the word on mental-health support channels

Suicide prevention and mental health are topics that go well beyond Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and should be discussed all year round. Thus, not only do we need to talk about it, but it is also very important that organizations have channels through which employees can seek support when needed. 

In addition to the company’s internal channels, employees in Brazil can contact the Centro de Valorização da Vida by simply dialing 188 or accessing the chat support on their website at www.cvv.org.br. For assistance in the United States, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and for support in other countries, you can find a local helpline.