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Human Resources: An Emotional Wellness Initiative

by Mark D. Lerner, Ph.D.

Chairman, The National Center for Emotional Wellness


There's been a dramatic increase in mental health problems—particularly anxiety and depression. Depression is now the leading cause of illness and disability in the world. Correlating with this increase in mental health problems has been a proliferation in the use of technology—including text messaging, email, mobile apps, social media, video conferencing, and significantly less authentic face-to-face communication (Twenge et al., 2018). In response to this trend, the World Health Organization has called for initiatives to address mental health in the workplace. Human resource personnel are ideally positioned for emotional wellness initiatives.


Human resources (HR) is the department within an organization that oversees and manages the workforce—ensuring alignment with the organization's strategic goals. Its primary functions include recruitment and selection, training and development, performance management, employee relations, and compensation and benefits. HR is crucial in promoting employee well-being, job satisfaction, and engagement, contributing to organizational success. Research highlights the significance of HR practices in enhancing employee motivation (Laguerre et al., 2019) and boosting organizational performance (Shuck & Zhang, 2019).


Workplace wellness initiatives have traditionally focused on physical health—promoting exercise, healthy eating, and weight loss. However, we must look beyond physical wellness and recognize the importance of emotional wellness. The National Center has developed presentations aimed at fostering emotional well-being among employees that can be uniquely tailored for HR professionals.


HR is uniquely positioned to address the emotional wellness of employees, as they play a critical role in ensuring employee welfare and contributing to a positive work environment. By equipping them with the necessary skills in crisis management and knowledge of emotional wellness, organizations, and corporations can empower HR personnel to support employees effectively.


Emotional wellness training for HR personnel focuses on several important aspects. First, it highlights the significance of mental health awareness within the workplace. Through this training, HR professionals learn to recognize signs of emotional distress in employees and how to appropriately address them (Chen et al., 2019). This training contributes to establishing a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their emotional well-being.


Second, the training equips HR personnel with specific strategies to foster emotional wellness among employees. This includes implementing initiatives like mindfulness programs, employee assistance programs, and flexible work arrangements (Butler et al., 2018). By actively supporting the emotional well-being of their workforce, organizations can cultivate a positive work culture that values their employees' emotional welfare.


Finally, the training for emotional well-being equips HR staff with the necessary skills to refer employees who may need professional help or counseling (Moriarty et al., 2019). When HR personnel are trained in emotional wellness, organizations ensure that employees have the resources to address their emotional health concerns.


Emotional wellness initiatives within the HR department not only benefit employees but also have a positive impact on the entire organization. Studies have demonstrated that organizations prioritizing emotional wellness experience higher job satisfaction, employee retention, and productivity (Bakker et al., 2017). Moreover, these initiatives can lower absenteeism, presenteeism, and healthcare costs (Greenberg et al., 2015).


Due to the dramatic increase in mental health problems, human resources must include emotional wellness initiatives. The National Center recognizes the significance of emotional well-being and has developed training programs to empower HR personnel with effective employee support skills. By emphasizing emotional wellness, organizations can foster a positive work culture and reap numerous benefits for their employees and the organization.


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