7 Ways to promote mental health at your caregiving workplace

By Mary Carder, Integrated Marketing Specialist on December 17, 2020

Strategies and resources to tackle caregiver depression and burnout


Ever hear the phrase, “Happy employees are productive employees?” Whether or not you believe the statement, there are real costs and benefits associated with the well-being of employees – especially when it comes to caregivers and their mental health.

Nurses, aids and home healthcare workers have chosen careers that are both physically and emotionally demanding. While caring for others is gratifying, it’s also stressful, and all that stress can lead to depression and burnout. Studies have shown that nurses and caregivers are greater risk than the general population to experience depression, and health care support is among the top five professions for female suicides. (It was also ranked 18th for male suicides.)

Burnout also manifests from stress and poor mental health. Caregiver burnout stands out as a serious issue within the industry as it leads to higher turnover rates and even medical mistakes. Beyond eating at your bottom line with new employee onboarding costs and potential malpractice lawsuits, ignoring burnout will alienate patients and their families with substandard or impersonal care.


Read more about preventing caregiver burnout >>>


Get in front of this issue while protecting your patients and supporting your employees. Make mental health a priority by implementing these steps.


7 Ways to promote mental wellbeing


1. Begin with onboarding

Both organizations and medical schools recognize that even before their first shift as a professional, doctors and other healthcare professionals face extreme stress and have begun tailoring programs to address the issue. For example, Northwestern University medical students “are tasked with improving self-care by choosing a personal health behavior to change and [tracking] their progress towards it.”

While your employees have most likely finished their technical training before stepping foot on the job, onboarding new employees provides the opportunity to instill the value of mental health and self-care through similar incentive programs.


2. Offer free screenings

Make it easier for caregivers to seek help by removing barriers. Provide free and easy access to tools such as self-assessments so that employees can recognize the problem and seek help. Make professional depression screenings available at little or no cost too, so that caregivers are encouraged to take that first step toward better mental health.


3. Train supervisors

An employee that was once an asset to your organization has become a liability. Her attitude has changed from one of pep and positivity to pessimism. She’s been cutting corners or ignoring guidelines altogether. While disciplinary action is needed, a heart-to-heart might be more effective than a written warning. When supervisors are trained to recognize the signs of depression and burnout, they can help retain employees by stopping to check in on those who might be struggling with mental health issues and offering resources and encouraging employees to get help.


4. Create a culture of awareness

One of the biggest barriers in seeking help is the stigma attached to mental health. Let caregivers know that their mental well-being is a top priority. Post signs, provide brochures or host workshops to remind employees to practice self-care and seek help when needed.


5. Hire above capacity

When we published our blog on how to curb caregiver turnover, we received several comments on social media from healthcare workers. These caregivers passionately cited high, unmanageable ratios as a key factor in deciding to leave a job.

Besides anecdotal evidence, research has shown that “staff working on units operating at 95% capacity were twice as likely to take sick leave for depression as staff members on units operating at 85%.” When possible, hiring above capacity can have an incredible impact on your employees’ well-being and your retention rates.


Read more about increasing caregiver retention >>>


6. Provide opportunities for employees to connect

Developing a mentorship program can help create a culture of support as well. As states, “Nurses feel pressured to put on a façade of normality, even if they’re struggling internally with anxiety or depression.” Bullying within the workplace increases this pressure for caregivers and remains an issue within the healthcare industry. A mentorship program can help new or struggling employees by providing a support system within the workplace.

If you’re not sold on the mentorship program, simply allowing caregivers a space where they can talk to one another can help. This can be as simple as a coffee station or an informal, regularly-scheduled meeting.


7. Offer resilience training

Resilience training offers another resource to caregiving facilities. Resilience training focuses on four key areas: emotional, physical, cognitive and spiritual. According to the Mayo Clinic, the method relies on techniques that train individuals to “use purposeful, trained attention to decrease negative thoughts in [their] mind and bring greater focus on the most meaningful aspect of an experience.” While resilience training can’t prevent or treat depression, it can be used as part of a holistic approach to managing work-related stress.


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Your employees care for their patients with dedication and understanding. Show these caregivers the same type of support by making their mental well-being a focus for your entire organization. You might be surprised at just how productive your happy employees will be!

Mary Carder, Integrated Marketing Specialist


The information contained in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace expert advice in connection with the topics presented. Glatfelter specifically disclaims any liability for any act or omission by any person or entity in connection with the preparation, use or implementation of plans, principles, concepts or information contained in this publication.

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