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Why Mental Health should be part of your DEI strategy

Why Mental Health Awareness should be part of your DEI strategy

Mental health should be a key aspect of your DEI strategy, both internally and when it comes to hiring diverse talent.

When it comes to thinking about diversity, many employers focus on gender and ethnicity. However, there are other aspects of diversity that it's important to consider, and mental health is one that's often overlooked. And with 1 in 5 Americans experiencing a mental health condition in their lifetime (National Institute of Mental Health) it's likely that candidates for your roles, and your current employees are affected.

What is considered a Mental Health Condition?

There are a number of conditions which may affect potential candidates, and current employees. Examples include:

  • Anxiety disorders

  • Depression

  • Neurological conditions such as ADHD

  • Eating disorders

  • Psychological disorders

  • Personality disorders

  • PTSD

For more information on specific conditions visit the National Institute of Mental Health.

Anyone can be affected by a mental health condition.

Why do we need to consider mental health as part of DEI?

Mental health conditions come under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) meaning that employers must provide 'reasonable accommodations' for employees, in the same way they would for a physical disability. In addition, candidates are now evaluating employers based on their approach to mental health and wellbeing: 88% of professionals consider the mental health and wellbeing strategies offered by their employer to be important when searching for a role. For employees who are underrepresented in the workplace, the challenges, stereotypes and biases they face can also take a toll on their mental health. How can I ensure my recruitment process is inclusive?

Develop a strategy and policy around mental health and wellbeing

Make sure you have a dedicated point of contact and HR policy around mental health detailing how you support staff. If you don't currently have an approach think about what you could offer - many companies offer things like Employee Assistance Programs and mental health days.

Educate your managers and team

Build awareness for your staff, break down the stigma around mental health and ensure hiring managers are equipped to deal with any issues during the recruitment process.

Create a safe space for employees

There is a lot of stigma around mental health and staff might fear opening up. Create an environment where they feel comfortable and safe to be open about the issues they are facing.

Make your recruitment process accessible

Focus on the requirements needed to do the job in criteria and interview questions and ensure assessments are accessible to candidates who may have disabilities or diagnosed conditions.

Promote a culture of wellbeing

Ensuring employees are happy and healthy supports inclusion, retention and productivity. Think about how you support staff wellbeing, for example, through flexible working or benefits, and make sure staff know they are supported and how they can access support if they need it.

Taking steps to support your employee's mental health and provide an inclusive working environment benefits everyone. It's an important part of DEI that shouldn't be overlooked. With more candidates concerned about the policies and benefits offered by employers, it is also a crucial issue when it comes to recruitment.

Diversify the Future is shaping the future of STEM by ensuring that diverse and under-represented communities have access to education and qualifications. We are supported by Engtal, a leading US technology and engineering staffing firm. For every under-represented candidate that Engtal places, they donate $1000 to our scholarship fund for individuals from under-represented or disadvantaged backgrounds to access STEM-specific college scholarships.


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