Mental health is the capacity for people to feel, think, and act in ways that enable them to cope with the stresses of life, realize their abilities, learn and work well, and contribute to their community. Emotional health, one aspect of mental health, is a person’s ability to cope with positive and negative emotions. Our mental and emotional health is in constant flux and ebbs and flows daily. Mental and emotional well-being is the maintenance of physical, mental, and emotional stability and balance.
The workplace environment can affect mental health, impacting staff’s ability to focus, make decisions, overcome obstacles, and work collaboratively. AMCHP also acknowledges that staff may have existing mental health concerns and other needs. AMCHP is committed to supporting staff mental and emotional health and well-being by fostering a supportive workplace environment.
Creating a culture of support. As an organization, we hold several values that create a supportive environment. AMCHP embraces a person-centered approach to supporting and appreciating our staff. This value is reflected in our commitment to centering equity in our work, incorporating all staff in significant decision-making processes, and investing in staff development. At the interpersonal level, we expect staff to treat each other with kindness, build a culture of connection through frequent check-ins, and model restorative behaviors.
AMCHP also has a Mental Health Team that promotes a supportive work environment and builds capacity for AMCHP staff and members to address the mental health needs of MCH populations. The team comprises representatives from each AMCHP team; all staff are welcome to join.
Integrating wellness in the workplace. In our pursuit to “get it all done” at the office and home, prioritizing rest and restorative activities is often difficult. AMCHP believes in a work-life balance and integrating wellness into the workplace. AMCHP offers a monthly self-care hour, during which staff can take an additional hour out of their workday to engage in a non-work-related activity. In the office, AMCHP has a wellness and infant-feeding room. Additionally, the AMCHP Week and Social Committees strive to foster in-person and virtual connectedness and relationship-building across the organization.
AMCHP teams are encouraged to discuss how to promote mental health and well-being at the team level. This includes the role of supervisors to initiate confidential conversations with team members to assess workload, as it can be a major stressor, and make space for wellness conversations.
Promoting wellness into the employee benefits package. AMCHP offers several benefits that support staff mental health and well-being and encourages staff to take full advantage of them. For example, AMCHP offers flexible work schedules, allows staff to work entirely virtually, and promotes using sick leave for mental health purposes. AMCHP also takes the time to learn what benefits and supports matter most to the happiness and wellness of its staff through its biennial workplace well-being survey.
Uncovering disparities in workplace wellness. The workplace well-being survey also assesses disparities in staff’s ability to experience workplace well-being. We challenge ourselves to identify how white supremacy culture characteristics present in the workplace and can negatively impact workplace well-being. As we reconcile the truth, navigate challenging conversations, and hold ourselves accountable, we lead with compassion and care for the well-being of our colleagues.
Finally, AMCHP acknowledges that addressing stigma and determinants of mental health and well-being in the workplace is an ongoing commitment. We affirm the importance of mental health advocacy and recognize that inequities have caused trauma and harm to communities that are systemically marginalized, which can present mental health challenges. We remain committed to learning about and applying equitable approaches to promoting mental health and well-being in the workplace.