Mental Health in the Nonprofit Workplace
Mental health is a state of well-being in which you realize your own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and are able to make a contribution to your community.
Questions for management and boards:
Good News About Workplace Mental Health
Principles for effectively addressing situations:
Sudden change in job functions can take toll on employees’ mental health
What You Need to Know About Mental Health
Healthy work environments are critical in the prevention of stress and other mental health problems. Managers play an important role in building and sustaining healthy work environments. You can be proactive by following some of the suggestions below.
Early detection and recognition of mental health problems are critical to ensure healthy outcomes for the individual and the organization.
What you can do to help
An Honest Conversation About Nonprofit Leadership and Mental Health
When it comes to mental health, high-pressure roles and leadership traits, the following are four tips taken from my personal experience to help you and your colleagues manage the pressures of the executive office:
In addition to managing your own mental health successfully, nonprofit leaders should be responsible for creating an environment that helps to end the stigma of mental health in the workplace.
Stop Swimming in the Shallow End of Self Care
Why We Need to Prioritize Self-Care in the Nonprofit Sector
Here are six self-care tips for nonprofits that want to build a healthier culture:
A number of organizations provide professional support services to staff. This includes specialist and confidential support for staff members, such as counseling services, one-to-one coaching, and mentors. Additional support is also provided via online portals, such as websites that contain a range of information on wellbeing and self-care, as well as forums and discussion pages.
Nonprofits are also investing in training programs that aim to support individuals to self-care. This includes classes such as yoga, mindfulness, and meditation for all team members.
Staff wellbeing can also be given a boost by organizing events that celebrate successes, increase morale, and improve relationships. Staff awards ceremonies, wellbeing days, or time together off-site can all have a positive impact on wellbeing.
Progressive nonprofit organizations are trying to incorporate and mainstream wellbeing into broader organizational structures. Recording time off and monitoring sick leave is key if anything is to be done about it. Hiring staff that understand the need for prioritizing wellbeing is also key. Having policies and procedures in place and visible to all emphasizes the focus on wellbeing across the organization.
Treating staff like adults who can manage their own workload and ability to find the best way to get tasks done is key to wellbeing. If a member of staff knows they will get a report finished if they can work at home, let them—they know what they need.
Wellbeing practices won’t be prioritized by staff if they don’t see their leaders doing the same. A key piece of wellbeing in the workplace is modeling and sharing with your team when you are leaving early to get some headspace, or arriving late because you did an extended yoga session at home. Being open about what you need in order to stay focussed and driven will encourage others to do the same.
COVID-19: How Nonprofits can establish Effective Telecommuting Practices
Social Care in Times of Social Distancing
The COVID-19 situation is evolving quickly and there are still many unknowns. One thing is for sure, though:
This is a time when solidarity and community care will be more important than ever.
This is especially true for nonprofits, as many of us serve populations that were already vulnerable or will be more vulnerable to coronavirus exposure. It can be overwhelming to think of the scope of needs and actions required at this moment, so we want to leave you with some encouraging resources to help us all remember that even in the midst of social distancing we can build strong communities and care for one another:
10 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health
Phone calls and social networks have their place, but few things can beat the stress-busting, mood-boosting power of quality face-to-face time with other people.
Staying active is as good for the brain as it is for the body. Regular exercise or activity can have a major impact on your mental and emotional health, relieve stress, improve memory, and help you sleep better.
Talk to a friendly face. In-person social interaction with someone who cares is one of the most effective ways to calm your nervous system and relieve stress.
Does listening to an uplifting song make you feel calm? Does squeezing a stress ball help you feel centred? What about taking a walk in nature and enjoying the sights and sounds of the trees? Everyone responds to sensory input a little differently, so experiment to find what works best for you.
Yoga, mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing can help reduce overall levels of stress.
Leisure time is a necessity for emotional and mental health. Take some time to relax, contemplate, and pay attention to the positive things as you go about your day — even the small things. Write them down if you can, because they can be easy to forget. Then you can reflect on them later if your mood is in need of a boost.
Foods that can support your mood include fatty fish rich in omega-3s, nuts (walnuts, almonds, cashews and peanuts), avocados, beans, leafy greens (spinach, kale and Brussels sprouts), and fresh fruit such as blueberries.
It matters more than you think. One way to get sleep better is to take a break from the stimulation of screens — TV, phones, tablets or computers — in the two hours before bedtime.
This is different for everyone. You might try one of the following:
If you or a loved one needs support, there are many programs and resources that are available to you:
Understanding Mental Health in the Workplace
At nonprofits, long hours and scarce resources are considered typical, but the high-pressure environment and deeply important work can trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Nearly two-thirds of employees who suffer from a mental health condition will hide it from their coworkers, afraid of professional ramifications. Without organizational awareness and proper supports in place, these conditions can cripple productivity where it is needed most. This article is the first of a two-part series examining mental health challenges in the workplace, and how leaders can address them effectively and empathetically.