August 3, 2022

Mental health team building activities, modeled after research

These research-based mental health team building activities can help you manage your team’s stress and mental health challenges in the workplace.

Studies show that about 1 in 4 American adults suffer from mental health disorders in a given year. Provided these statistics, it comes as no surprise that many employees want their employers to do more to support their mental health. 

Prioritizing your team’s mental health is not only the right thing to do, but it also helps increase productivity, motivation, morale, and retention rates. 

How can you protect the mental health of your teammates in the workplace? 

A recent Gesund Bund De article (the German state health portal) highlights some of the best ways to prioritize your team’s mental health and offer support. You can do this by:

  • Providing resources to help with stress management 
  • Effectively addressing and resolving conflicts
  • Setting clear work hours that promote a healthy work-life balance 
  • Overcommunicating everything, including changes in the company, workloads, expectations, deadlines, etc. 
  • Embracing a culture of social recognition and mutual appreciation  
  • Setting some time aside for employees to ‘reset’

5 team building activities to tackle mental health challenges 

Now that you know the changes to make, you’ll need to choose the right activities to implement them. Here are some team building activities to help improve your employees' mental health and well-being. 

Team building activities to work on stress management 

1. Offer EAPs

Employee Assistant Programs or EAPs are special programs designed to help employees manage and resolve any personal issues that may negatively affect their work performance. This might include relationship issues, financial or legal problems, alcohol or drug abuse, mental health and wellness struggles, etc. 

Providing EAPs to your employees has a lot of benefits. For one, they can improve morale and greatly assist those struggling with mental health issues. They can also minimize workplace stress and absenteeism.  

If you’re looking for solid EAP programs, you might want to consider Talkspace, Spring Health, or Ginger

2. Mental health workshops

A great mental health team building activity is organizing a mental health workshop. These educational workshops are designed to help employees learn how to manage stress, practice self-care, and cope with mental health challenges. 

You can bring in a certified mental health therapist who can talk to your team about wellbeing, mental health, and stress and share tips on how to cope with these issues.

By inviting a professional, you get to leave the mental health education to an expert, but you also get to show your team that you really care about their psychological health. 

If you’re interested in virtual mental health workshops, you can check out Work to Wellness

Also see: Free virtual team building activities 

Mental health team building activities to help employees reset

3. Mental health days 

As great as lunch breaks are, they are rarely ever long enough to allow employees to recharge after several hours of work. The better, more effective option is to offer mental health days. 

While this might not exactly be a stress management team building activity, mental health days have a lot of benefits. Mental health days help reduce burnout and stress. More than that, they give employees ample time to rest, recharge, and return to work feeling happier and more productive. 

To encourage employees to take mental health days when they need them, you can implement a mental health policy. This can state that every employee must take at least a certain number of mental health days off every year.  

Team building activities to display recognition and appreciation

4. Give employees ‘self-care’ bonuses 

Giving your employees ‘self-care bonuses’ on a fairly regular basis is a great way to improve their moods and infuse some joy into their lives. This morale-boosting activity can also have a positive effect on their mental health at work. 

These bonuses don’t need to be anything over the top. It can be as little as a $15 gift card on a monthly basis. If they’re not sure what to spend their bonuses on, here are some cool purchases to suggest that can help with stress management. 

  • Go to your favorite coffee shop and buy a trendy drink
  • But a book on self-care
  • Get an indoor plant for your workspace 
  • Buy a relaxing spa set 
  • Go out to watch a movie with a loved one 

Also see: Team building activities for work

Mental health team building activities to promote effective conflict resolution 

5. “You said, I heard”

One of the factors that can negatively affect mental health in the workplace is conflict. Without proper strategies for effective communication and conflict resolution, employees might struggle with stress and their mental health. This is why this stress management team building activity works. 

‘You said, I heard’ is a team exercise that helps teammates improve their listening skills. It also helps people see how to avoid miscommunication, which can minimize conflicts. This game is played in pairs. To play:

  1. The first person starts by making a statement. For example, “when will you send out the email to the clients”? 
  2. The second person responds with their interpretation of the statement. For example, “I heard ‘you’re being too slow at completing this task.’ ” 
  3. The first speaker then responds with what they really meant. For example, “You heard ‘you’re being too slow at completing this task.’, but I meant ‘I feel pressured by the boss to have those emails sent by the end of the day, so I would really appreciate it if you could send them out soon.’ ”

Also see: Communication team building activities and problem solving team building activities 

Mental health team building activities - a continuous process

The right mental health activities can be effective at helping employees with mental health issues cope better at work, and this is a good place to start. 

But to see real, lasting change, more needs to be done. For example, you might need to develop company-wide policies that prioritize and support the well-being and mental health of your employees. 

For more ideas on how to be a pro at team building, you can check out some of our other resources, like the best team building apps and software, leadership team building activities, and how to improve team building online.

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