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As a business leader, it’s important to be aware of the unique challenges that LGBTQIA+ employees face in the workplace. Mental health is an important issue for all employees, but it can be especially challenging for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to get their mental health needs met, especially as they are often targeted by violence and discrimination. Here are six ways to support LGBTQIA+ employees’ mental health in your business.
Related: 5 Simple Ways to Do More for Your Employees’ Mental Health This Week
1. Create a safe and welcoming space
Make sure that LGBTQIA+ employees feel safe in the workplace by actively creating an environment of inclusion. This includes having policies to prevent discrimination and creating safe spaces where members of the LGBTQIA+ community can come together to socialize and support one another.
Why it works: Studies have shown that environments of inclusion can improve mental health outcomes in the workplace. A safe and welcoming space will help LGBTQIA+ employees feel accepted and supported.
2. Provide mental health resources
Mental health resources should be available to all employees, but they are essential for members of the LGBTQIA+ community who may feel isolated or unsupported. Offer resources such as counseling services and employee assistance programs to ensure everyone can access the care they need.
Why it works: Mental health resources are essential for ensuring that employees can care for their mental well-being. These resources allow them to seek help as needed and show that you value your employees’ mental health.
3. Ensure equal treatment
All employees should be treated equally and respectfully, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Ensure that policies are in place to guarantee fairness and equality for all employees — equal access to benefits that are important for all members of your workforce. For example, ensure that your medical insurance covers the costs associated with gender affirmation and gender transition healthcare.
Why it works: Equal treatment helps create an environment in which LGBTQIA+ employees feel respected and valued, which can go a long way in improving mental health outcomes for community members.
4. Be more than an ally
Supporting LGBTQIA+ employees should go beyond simply creating policies to promote equality. Work to create an environment where employees can openly discuss their identity without fear of judgment or discrimination. Listen, understand and learn from each other.
Why it works: Creating an open and supportive environment encourages dialogue and understanding between employers and employees, which will help reduce stigma and make it easier for members of the LGBTQIA+ community to seek out mental health resources when needed.
Related: 7 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Ensure Better Equality at Their Workplace
5. Educate yourself
Educate yourself on issues pertaining to the LGBTQIA+ community, such as sexual orientation and gender identity. Doing so, you will be better equipped to create a safe space for all your employees, regardless of their sexuality or gender identity.
Why it works: Educating yourself on the relevant issues will help you understand the unique challenges that members of the LGBTQIA+ community face. It also gives you the knowledge and understanding needed to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and supported.
6. Keep track of trends
External factors can affect mental health, such as legislation changes and new policies related to sexuality or gender identity. Stay informed on current events and any laws that may affect your employees so that you can provide support when necessary.
Why it works: Keeping track of trends helps employers anticipate potential situations and respond accordingly with resources, education and other forms of assistance, thereby ensuring that all employees have access to the support they need when faced with challenges related to their mental health.
By understanding the unique challenges members of the LGBTQIA+ community face and creating policies that promote inclusion, employers can foster an atmosphere of acceptance and respect in the workplace. A supportive workplace includes zero-tolerance policies for violence against LGBTQIA+ members and provides information and resources on mental health. Mental health is an important part of employee well-being, and employers should work to ensure that all employees have access to the care they need.