We all have heard the term "work/life balance." It's a mantra, a catchphrase, a term that's meant to describe an individual's ability to somehow equitably balance the demands of work with the demands of life in some tangible, quantifiable way. But work/life balance doesn't exist.
Work/life balance was a theory that looked good on paper but was rarely achieved. This was true well before the COVID-19 pandemic and the social injustices and economic issues it exacerbated. In fact, always-on technology has brought another phenomenon to fruition: the ever-increasing organizational expectation that individuals be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
More and more, we are seeing work/life integration, not balance. Employees are bringing "work" home, while also bringing "home" to work. This can adversely affect the mental health and emotional well-being of employees and their families. Supporting them is more important than ever—and empathic, empowered HR professionals can make a difference.
Many HR professionals may have the motivation and desire to help their organizations address the mental health and wellness of their workforce generally and to support individuals in times of crisis. But they may not have the experience or training necessary to do so. That's where a new SHRM program will have a real impact.
Courses, Tools and Resources
The SHRM Workplace Mental Health and Wellness initiative and the Workplace Mental Health Ally Certificate will provide the tools and resources to empower HR professionals to be the link between employees in need and the support they deserve.
The online certificate program consists of a series of multimedia courses covering such topics as common mental health conditions, substance use, suicide and violence prevention, diversity and bias, effective communication skills, and safety planning.
After completing the series, HR professionals will be able to more meaningfully support employees and their peers in the workplace, wherever that workplace is—physical or virtual, local or remote.
In addition, SHRM-certified HR professionals will be eligible to receive professional development credits toward recertification of their credential.
Fostering a Culture of Wellness
The certificate was developed in a partnership between PsychHub, a comprehensive multimedia platform for mental health education, SHRM and the SHRM Foundation. I was honored to be a part of that development process, as a mental health counselor in training who has experienced his own journey through mental health challenges.
I'm even more honored to see so many in this serving profession of HR take on the mantle of supporting those in need and fostering a culture of wellness across their organizations.
No matter what or where work is, HR professionals have a vital role to play in promoting mental health wellness at organizational and individual levels. SHRM and the SHRM Foundation can now provide empathic HR leaders with the resources and tools that will have an immeasurable impact on their organizations and the lives of the individual employees they serve.
Andrew Morton is SHRM's director of certification relations and business development.