Shedding Light on Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace

Stephanie Smith, Communications Specialist


The percentage of people living with mental health issues is rapidly growing. In fact, the most anxious generation is currently graduating from college and joining the workforce, with 54% of Gen Z reporting feelings of anxiety.

Meditation, sound baths, organic diets and new variations of yoga are trending – all as ways to help promote healthier lives, and for some people, to help manage their mental health. What’s often undervalued is the importance of working for a company that supports people with mental health issues.

We spend about one-third of our lives at work. For someone living with a mental illness, workplace culture is a true differentiator in how someone functions and feels daily. If you work an average of 40 hours per-week, that means you spend more time in the office than anywhere else. If your day-to-day isn’t supportive of your mental health, chances are you’ll suffer.

We’re well aware of this at Hot Paper Lantern, and strive to maintain a culture that is naturally supportive of any mindset, background and working style, so that all of our employees feel supported and can perform their best. By enabling employees to work remotely, empowering each other to take chances, and building a culture that stays true to our core values, we’ve created an environment that’s supportive of every employee.


Flexible working options

We’re big believers in digital enablement because digital tools give employees and companies greater flexibility. With remote access, employees are able to quickly and efficiently connect with one another even if they aren’t physically in the office.

Working remotely is common at Hot Paper Lantern and goes without question, which means if you wake up and don’t feel well enough to hop out of bed and commute on a squashed subway car, you don’t have to. It’s a helpful setup for someone with chronic anxiety, depression, or any mental health issue. Removing the pressure to be in the office each day alleviates the what-if stress and frees up mental capacity and energy to channel toward producing meaningful work.


Energizing brands, and ourselves

If you can build trust and have honesty in an organization, employees won’t be bound to a fear of making mistakes, according to our Chief People Officer, Sara Whitman. This opens the door for people to take chances, and it’s a model we’ve built upon at Hot Paper Lantern. While we’re focusing on inspiring our clients and improving their communications strategies, we are also focused on empowering one another to think outside the box and try unconventional things, all while freeing up mind space to generate great work.

This is a huge deal for someone living with anxiety as it removes the layer of worry about messing up. We encourage our colleagues to take bold steps, and treat the misses not as a failure but as an opportunity to learn.


Leading with values

As a young company, we’ve built something that reflects our values, and have charted a path forward that is abundant with support, rife with opportunity and ready for whatever comes next.

Collaboration guides everything we do. Our teams support each other, without prompting, without an ask – it’s second nature. How does this help someone with mental health issues? Teams cover for each other if someone needs to take a break and managers always have an open-door policy.

Having a manager that you can talk to about any type of health (yes, physical and mental) has a direct impact on feeling supported in the workplace. It also has a lasting impact on how employees interact with one another day-in and day-out. In fact, my manager inspired me to write this article. To me, that speaks volumes.


It all comes down to culture 

Perhaps part of the reason we’ve been able to construct a culture at Hot Paper Lantern that supports people with mental health issues is that we’ve been empowered people to build and shape what the culture looks like. At our core is a belief in lifting one another up and a flexibility in work style and preference.

Addressing mental illness is critical to ending the stigma, and mental health awareness month is the perfect time to do it. This month, take the time to reflect on the environment you work in and know that if you’re dealing with a mental health issue, you’re not alone.