Mental health has been top of mind for employees and employers alike for a few years now. But some companies are continuing to push to improve the lives of their employees or their clients as innovators in the future of mental health. They don’t all look the same—some companies that support mental health have the next generation in mind, and some have workplace environment improvement at the heart of their mission statements. But they all have one thing in common: making the world a bit better through improvements in the systems and processes impacting mental health.
“What we’ve found in research is that too often companies focus on individual-level remedies to issues of mental health or burnout—i.e., here’s an app, fix yourself!” says Tim Vogus, professor of management at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. But for those looking to actually improve workplaces, Vogus and his fellow researchers have identified that companies must implement “compassion practices.” He defines these as systematic efforts by organizations to infuse compassion into the workplace, and it might look like:
Hiring compassionate people
Sustaining compassion in the workplace through reward and recognition systems for compassionate acts toward customers and peers
Ensuring compassion is top of mind in everyday settings like meetings
Replenishing compassion when it’s depleted, such as helping people process difficult experiences at work
Providing resources for people going through personally difficult experiences
“We find that infusing, sustaining and replenishing compassion is associated with better outcomes for employees in terms of their well-being and for customers in terms of their perceptions of quality and willingness to recommend the organization to others,” he adds.
Other companies have more of an outward focus, looking to change the mental health landscape beyond their own four walls. Here are the companies pushing toward change in mental health in 2024.
10 companies that support mental health awareness
1. Palo Alto Networks
Palo Alto Networks, an IT security company, has partnered with Modern Health to give employees and their eligible dependents access to counseling and mental health resources through an employee assistance program. Additionally, the company gives a $1,000 per year stipend for items that enhance overall employee health through their FLEXBenefits program.
Edward Hall, a Palo Alto Networks employee, shared on the company’s website that, “Overall, FLEXBenefits make a difference because you’re able to do something outside of work. And I think that’s beneficial because you get to take your mind off whatever it is that you’re thinking about while you’re working and just be able to relax and have fun
The FLEXBenefits even cover hobbies like video games. Another employee, Rees Scott, shared, “I think of video games as an escape. While physical health is, of course, important, mental health is just as important and, for me, video games have been one of the best ways I’ve found to relax. Many of my colleagues also have a passion for playing, and this has been a way for us to connect and enjoy time together. And after the last year and a half we’ve all experienced, who couldn’t use some of that?”
FloQast, a cloud-based accounting platform, closes its office for mental health days, encouraging employees to rest, unplug or recharge from their daily tasks. They also have employee resource groups that celebrate diversity. These employee resource groups have included the topics of Pride, women and wellness in the past. The company also supports unlimited vacation time for U.S. employees and encourages employee volunteerism for those employees who are local to Los Angeles.
The company’s website states, “Our goal is to create a team that is caring and motivated to improve the accounting profession and positively change the lives of accountants.”
In addition to resource groups, the company’s co-founder and chief product officer, Chris Sluty, created a meditation for accountants at FloQast to use, especially during the busy times of their work year.
3. Urban Sandbox
Urban Sandbox is a mother’s response to bullying and offers students a modern-day pen pal experience. The app gives students a safe learning space and allows them to connect and share with peers from around the world, engaging in different lessons with qualified educators. The app allows for social media interaction without parents needing to worry about inappropriate content or stereotypes.
“I do believe that regulated social media can be valuable for students’ growth and positively impact mental health when parents have a good amount of oversight,” says Danna Okuyama, founder of Urban Sandbox. “With Urban Sandbox, students have a place to engage like other social media platforms without the concerns of dangerous or inappropriate content, because guardians have access to easily supervise activity and ensure safety.” She adds that this has been providing opportunities for kids to openly connect with like-minded peers, learn about different cultures and backgrounds, build healthy peer competition, combat loneliness, boost confidence and more.
4. Oliver Wyman
Oliver Wyman, a global management consulting firm, is working to destigmatize mental health through a variety of initiatives, including free-of-charge 24/7 professional counseling support for employees. Additionally, the company observes Mental Health Month in May and World Mental Health Day in October, having open conversations with employees and podcasts about mental health initiatives. The company partners with This Can Happen, whose vision is to help organizations prioritize workplace mental health.
“I hope that our work helps destigmatize the conversations around mental health and wellness within the firm and promotes awareness of where to turn to for help if you need it,” says Ted Moynihan, managing partner at Oliver Wyman, on the company’s website. “Mental health should be treated the same as physical health.”
5. Wait Until 8th
Wait Until 8th is helping parents make the pledge to delay getting their child a smartphone until at least the eighth grade. In an effort to limit children’s exposure to smartphones and decrease the anxieties, depression and cyberbullying that can often come with the use of the devices, Wait Until 8th’s mission is to help children have a childhood.
Over 45,000 individuals have made a pledge to wait until at least the eighth grade before giving their child a smartphone.
“The Wait Until 8th movement is all about community,” says founder Brooke Shannon in a 2019 interview with Institute for Family Studies. “We want to support and empower parents who would like to delay the smartphone. We know there is a strength in numbers and something special about parents coming together to help each other.”
Unilever launched a mental health champions program that trains employees to be a listening ear for other employees in times of need. Nearly 4,000 employees have been trained since this launched in 2020. They also have established an employee assistance program (EAP) that provides support and resources to employees 24 hours a day, ranging from stress management to mindfulness and counseling. As of 2022, 82% of Unilever office employees surveyed felt that the company cared about their overall well-being.
According to a quote on their website from Dr. Diana Han, chief health and well-being officer: “At Unilever, we acknowledge and respect the deep, mutually reinforcing connections between work and health, and seek to bring an integrative approach to improving the wellbeing of our people. We work hard to ensure our people are able to align individual purposes to the work they do.”
What they offer: RingCentral offers “caRing days” that give employees an extra day off each quarter to rest or do something they are passionate about. The days typically correspond with things like Mental Health Day so individuals can volunteer or get involved around their community if they’d like. Additionally, all RingCentral employees are given a free subscription to Headspace as part of their employee benefits to help destress, and they can partake in employee groups to help celebrate diversity in the workplace.
In an article on Ringcentral’s blog, Becky Hensley, a RingCentral employee, shared how the company’s open conversations among employees help her feel comfortable to be who she is. “It’s empowering to know that there’s nothing wrong with you, and you can do things in a way that isn’t the norm,” says Hensley. “I’m happy to work with people who acknowledge that not everyone has the same work process and that we have to appreciate those who aren’t neurotypical.”
Barclays launched a “This Is Me” campaign that focuses on allowing employees to tell their own stories on who they are in an effort to encourage diversity, empathy and mental health. Over 250 employees have shared as part of this campaign, and the company’s campaign has also been shared with other businesses to help end the stigma often associated with mental health disorders.
Barclays reports on the campaign’s website that, “the number of colleagues sharing that they have a disability, or a neurodiverse or mental health condition, has increased from 3% to 11%.”
AT&T first brought mental health services on-site to their Texas headquarters in February 2020. As of October 2023, the lone psychologist on-site has had 17,000 visits from AT&T employees—who typically only wait a day or two to be seen. Other mental health initiatives the company has taken include tSpace, an online community for employees to help connect with other colleagues working toward overall better health.
Additional companies have joined AT&T in providing similar on-site therapy services, including Google and Delta Airlines.
“Listening to our people, meeting them where they are, and responding with meaningful action isn’t just a responsibility—it’s core to our DNA,” says Dr. Henry Ting, senior vice president and chief health officer at Delta Airlines in a 2022 company blog post. “We know that if we take care of our people, they will take care of our customers, partners, and communities. Bringing this vision to fruition is an ongoing task that never truly ends, and we’re just getting started. But by taking cues from our people, we’ve taken steps in the right direction.”
The Well Minds program at Intuit helps employees stay mindful and take care of their emotional well-being. Intuit also offers a Well-being for Life Program, which supports employees in their well-being journey. Through this program, employees can receive reimbursement for up to $1,300 per fiscal year for expenses related to their emotional, physical and financial well-being. Additionally, the company established a Mental Health 101 Training in 2019. This training was designed for employees and managers to fully understand the mental health benefits available to them at Intuit.
To date, more than 1,000 Intuit employees have participated in the Mental Health 101 Training.
“I am lucky to work for an organization where the well-being of employees is a priority, and mental well-being is viewed as just as important as physical,” says employee Lou Shelley in a 2023 company blog.
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