Exploring the mental health work perk myth (and solutions!) Part 1

2020 was the year companies rushed to move work online and offer wellness benefits like breaks and self-care packages. From a business perspective, keeping workers stress-free and productive makes perfect sense.

But most mental health “work perks” aren’t built to last.

In this series, I want to dive into common workplace wellness initiatives. I’ll explore their success from my POV as a disabled worker and how they can be re-imagined to support employees long-term.

Mental health work perk #1: The Headspace Subscription

A great introduction to meditation, this platform also combines soothing sleep sounds with mindful workouts, excellent preventative tools for stress.

My concern: It relies on the user to figure it out and doesn’t address actual mental health disorders. As someone with severe mental health issues, this seems like more of a bandaid than a solution.

Looking long-term: Consider working with a mental health professional who can introduce workers to meditation, offer advice based on individuals’ state of health, and suggest appropriate alternatives such as therapy or medication.

Mental health work perk #2: The Mental Health Day

This is one of those perks (like flex scheduling and unlimited PTO) that looks SO tempting, especially to those with consistent mental health issues.

My concern: This “extra time off” may come with fine print, like limits and lack of PTO, that doesn’t take individual needs into account. Also, workers at home may still be bombarded with work calls and messages.

Looking long-term: This benefit has a lot of potential for companies willing to really take it onboard. That could mean instituting company-wide off days and “unplug” work communication policies for people on breaks.

Join me next time as I explore more mental health work perks in Part 2!

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Future of work and wellbeing writer-journalist and advocate. Co-host of business podcast, Bettermental. Lead writer at digital nation, Plumia.

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Leanna Lee

Leanna Lee

Future of work and wellbeing writer-journalist and advocate. Co-host of business podcast, Bettermental. Lead writer at digital nation, Plumia.

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