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3 Ways to Prioritize Mental Health in Your Nonprofit

Two nonprofit coworkers are taking a break and prioritizing mental health in the nonprofit

Employees are a vital component of your nonprofit. They always go the extra mile. They are constantly working towards a mission bigger than themselves, like advocating for women’s rights, accessible education, affordable housing, and even mental health. But how do you ensure that you, as a charitable organization leader, are creating a work environment that prioritizes the mental well-being of your employees?

COVID-19 has had a major impact on mental health all around the world. The uncertainty, isolation, and fear during the pandemic caused a 25% increase in anxiety and depression within individuals. On top of that, nonprofit employees deal with long hours and a lack of resources, and they may not necessarily achieve goals on time. This can be mentally exhausting and discourage them, while affecting your nonprofit’s mission in the process. If you want to continue working towards your nonprofit’s fundraising goals, you need to keep an eye on the well-being of your employees by creating an environment of support and success. So, how do you do that?


Here are 3 ways to prioritize mental health in your nonprofit:


1. Normalize the conversation

Although mental health is openly talked about on social media, the topic is still stigmatized in the workplace. Research shows that 82% of employees hide their mental health issues from their supervisors. This means there are so many people in the workplace who are uncomfortable talking about their mental health.

40% of employees claim to have given a false reason for taking a day off because of mental health issues. As a nonprofit employer, you need to take the lead and start the conversation about mental health in your workplace. This will show your employees that you are willing to support them. Talking about your own experiences with mental health as a nonprofit leader will establish an environment of trust and respect. You can also train your managers and leaders to recognize the signs that someone may be struggling, so that they can respond in an attentive and considerate manner. This will assure your employees that they are taken care of, and they will be encouraged to speak up when they need help.


2. Dealing with burnout

It’s no secret: burnout is inevitable. Working in a nonprofit can be very fulfilling and comes with a do-good feeling. But no matter how passionate you and your employees are towards your nonprofit’s mission, there comes a time when the workload becomes overwhelming. This is because, not only do nonprofit employees need to raise funds while meeting deadlines, but they also need to provide a lot of emotional support, which can be draining.

Your employees need to be taken care of too. Organize some team bonding activities that will help them relax and have fun while in the workplace. Having outdoor team lunches when the weather is warm, holding a yoga class, or encouraging your team to log-off promptly at five are a few ways to deal with burnout. You should also ensure that everyone is taking enough breaks during the workday, so that they can refresh their mind and come back with renewed energy and motivation.

A great solution is to create employee well-being programs. These can operate during or outside of work hours and may include going for a lunch-time walk with your team, organizing team retreats, creating diversity groups, and facilitating meditation. They are useful because they provide tools to manage stress effectively. 70% of employees in well-being programs have a higher satisfaction rate at their job, compared to those who are not enrolled. When employees are stressed and don’t have the help they need, their productivity reduces by 35%. It would be in your nonprofit’s best interest to implement a wellness program for your employees to maintain high morale and productivity rates.


3. Promoting resources for mental health support

Over 40% of employees said that they are unaware of the resources available for mental health support. This means that even if your nonprofit offers wellness programs and mental health resources, your employees may not be using them.

As a nonprofit leader, you need to ensure that your employees know the resources available to them. If you offer benefits that cover professional mental health support, disclose the included resources. You can hold workshops and company seminars that go over the different tools your employees can access.

Encouraging employees to use their vacation days to unwind is important to help them get away from the mindset that a good employee doesn’t need a break. We are human, we all need a break. You can reach out in the middle of the year and remind them to use their vacation days and mental wellness perks, like booking that massage or taking a day off to spend with their family! This will show your employees that you prioritize their mental health and wellbeing, which will make them feel supported.


Mental health is a complicated topic, and everyone has their own struggles when dealing with it. But it’s important that your organization does its best to support your employees. We strongly recommend that you do your research to implement the best practices to foster a safe, healthy, and positive environment. Happy employees are loyal employees. Focusing on the success of your nonprofit requires focusing on employee well-being.

Nonprofits have major goals, like running successful fundraising campaigns and fostering relationships with donors. But you may not always have enough employees and resources. This can contribute to high levels of stress and decreased productivity. Our business analytics tool, DC Analytics can help ease some of the workload, while optimizing your fundraising strategy. Learn more: https://bit.ly/Donor-Compass.