Now more than ever, companies are looking for ways to bring a culture of mindfulness and a strong sense of community to their workforce. The need for clarity and calm while maintaining focus on creative solutions has become critical.

More companies are looking to add mental health care and resources to their list of benefits. According to a recent survey of companies across the globe, many respondents said they’d either implemented or planned to implement a mental health benefit as part of their compensation package. But if the care provided isn’t evidence-based and culturally responsive, it may not be helping everyone in the workforce.

Here are a few reasons why it’s important to make culturally responsive care an integral part of your provider network’s approach to care:

As the workforce population continues to grow in its diversity and more organisations recognise that diverse companies outperform their less diverse peers, companies are making diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) a large part of their recruiting strategy. This goes hand in hand with adopting a workforce mental health benefit that focuses on evidence-based, culturally responsive care.

On average, countries dedicate less than 2% of their health care budgets to mental health. More than 70% of mental health expenditure in middle-income countries still goes towards psychiatric hospitals. Around half the world’s population lives in countries where there is just one psychiatrist to serve 200 000 or more people. Most people with diagnosed mental health conditions go completely untreated. In all countries, gaps in service coverage are compounded by variability in quality of care.

Research shows that providing culturally competent care helps people feel more comfortable getting mental health support and staying engaged in treatment.

To truly meet the breadth of a diverse workforce’s needs, mental health benefits need to provide high-quality care that reflects the experiences of the individual. Unfortunately, only 20 percent of mental health treatments have been proven effective, according to the APA.

Companies committed to prioritising employee mental health and social-emotional wellness are setting themselves up for success when it comes to employee recruitment and equally as important, employee retention. A culture of moment-to-moment non-judgmental awareness, in other words, mindfulness, encourages focus, employee engagement, improved performance, resilience, openness, and authenticity.

At be.still we believe businesses have a unique opportunity to unlock human potential and be a force for social change. We work with businesses to promote positive work cultures.

Positive work cultures are a function of aware, awake, leaders. It is important to create a safe space for honest communication, cultural sensitivity, and acceptance. Being present means listening to understand not respond, keeping an open mind and a spirit of curiosity, promoting a culture of positive mental health and well-being in the workplace. Companies nationwide are instilling these practices including Ralph Lauren, TRANZACT, Crestron, Citrin Cooperman, Blue Fin Group, to name a few.

Beyond this, companies are creating Employee Resource Groups. Particularly in large global companies, paying attention to cultural differences is imperative. Cultural sensitivity honours each employee for who they are and where they come from, and the creation of ERG groups allows for honest communication and a shared sense of experience. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the creation of DEI and Employee resource groups, companies are holding themselves accountable and beginning to take micro and sometimes macro steps toward change: embracing transformation with curiosity and acceptance. By starting here, we’re able to promote a positive work environment, be proactive, and avoid other mental health issues down the line.

Companies are asking employees what they need. When leaders are open to hearing about and then honouring what they learn about their employees’ needs, and desires, it is possible to initiate and implement new policies. For example, Steve Madden has implemented this and is a huge proponent of mental health and mindfulness practices to mitigate stress, burn out and support Mental Health. In order to share the benefits of meditation and yoga, Steve gave all his employees permission to take a be.still 15 minute brain break in the middle of the work day. Madden walks the walk and talks the talk!

The Global Burden of Disease Study, estimates that 792 million people were living with a mental health disorder in 2017 (10.7% of the world’s population) (Our World in Data). The two highest-prevalence mental disorders were anxiety and depression, experienced by 3.8% and 3.4% of the global population, respectively.

Serious mental illness causes billions of dollars in lost earnings each year. When the mental health of an employee suffers, absence increases, productivity and creativity fall off, morale takes a deep dive and health care premiums rise! This is why mental health offerings are so key for companies.

We see companies offering incentive plans to lower health care insurance premiums that include not just weight loss and smoking cessation, but nutritional guidance, how to manage sleep, stress, et al.

Better mental health is better for everyone. When workplaces prioritize mental health, some of the results include enhanced corporate culture, cultivation of each person’s ability to focus, see clearly, lead collaboratively, and an enhanced sense of embodied compassion. Recent studies show that taking time to step away from one’s desk, taking a few mindful breaths, or meditating can help counteract decision fatigue, stress, lagging motivation, and procrastination. Just like our bodies, our minds need training to function at their best. While it’s an incredible opportunity to have this in your workplace and should be available to all employees, it’s important not to neglect low income or low budget workforces. At Kula for Karma, we offer these practices to underserved communities as well, so everyone can reap the benefits of improved mental health.

Benefits of Meditation

  1. Mitigate Stress: Many styles of meditation can help reduce stress. Meditation can also effectively reduce symptoms of anxiety in people with stress-triggered medical conditions.
  2. Helps Control Anxiety: A disciplined regular meditation practice helps reduce anxiety and anxiety-related mental health challenges such as phobias, social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behaviors.
  3. Improves Emotional Health: Some forms of meditation can serve to reduce symptoms of depression and facilitate a more positive outlook on life. Research shows that maintaining an ongoing disciplined meditation practice may improve near and long term mental health.
  4. Invites Self-Awareness: Self-inquiry and related inner focused styles of meditation may facilitate the “witness mind.” This may be the catalyst for taking steps toward positive change.
  5. Improves Attention Span: Several types of meditation may build the brain’s muscle to focus, redirect, and maintain attention.
  6. May Improve Memory: The improved focus that a regular disciplined meditation practice brings, also may increase memory and mental clarity. These benefits can help ward off age-related memory loss and dementia.
  7. May Invite Kindness: Metta, or loving-kindness meditation, is a practice of identifying positive feelings, first toward self and then toward others. Metta empathy and compassion.
  8. May Help Fight Substance Use disorder: Meditation encourages mental discipline and keen awareness and can help discern triggers and impulses: thereby facilitation behavior modification.
  9. Improves Sleep: A number of meditation techniques may help with relaxation and surrendering control. Acceptance of “runaway” thoughts that can interfere with sleep, may be the missing ingredient to promote easeful deep sleep.
  10. Helps Mitigate Pain: Meditation may shift the perception of pain in the brain. This may help reduce chronic pain when used in conjunction with medical care or physical therapy.
  11. May Improve Blood Pressure.: Blood pressure may decreases not only during meditation, but also over time in individuals who have a regular disciplined meditation practice. Reduced blood pressure may reduce strain on the heart and arteries, helping prevent heart disease.
  12. Meditation May Be Done Anywhere, Anytime: If you would like to incorporate meditation into your routine, try a few different styles until you discover a style that works for you.

The Bottom Line: Meditation is something everyone can do to improve their mental and emotional health: It is cost effective with long term health benefits, and has the power to create transformation from the inside out.

Penni Feiner
Penni Feiner
Executive Director at Kula for Karma | Website

As Executive Director of Kula for Karma, Penni brings passion, drive, and unwavering conviction to everything she does.  Along with her family, Kula for Karma, and the practice of moment-to-moment awareness, Penni savors each day with grit and gratitude. Dedicated to the path of yoga for 17 years, Penni brings her heartfelt, soulful voice and the practice of Bhakti yoga to life on and off the mat.