wellness programs

15 Fun and Functional Mental Health Wellness Program Ideas

Wellness programs often focus heavily on physical health, as employers are interested in lowering their health care costs. Often, mental health plays a much larger role in employees’ overall health. Check out these mental health wellness program ideas to expand the wellness experience for your employees.

8 Hours of Sleep Challenge

Did you know that many popular fitness trackers also track sleep length and quality? Switch up your step challenge for a sleep challenge to support mental health.

You do this challenge with or without activity trackers, just be sure to have a designated person who can take charge of collecting the sleep data from your participants. You can support employees by sharing better sleep tips throughout the challenge.

Sleep Challenge Theme Incentive Ideas

Free or Low-Cost Ideas:

  • Sleep Masks

  • Chamomile & Lavender Tea

  • Nap Breaks

  • “Get to Bed Early” Leave Early PTO

Big Budget or Grand Prize:

  • New Mattress

  • High-Quality Pillow

  • Fitness Tracker with Sleep Functions

  • Sunlight Alarm Clock

30 Days of Gratitude

Keep positive thoughts on your employees’ minds with a gratitude challenge. Customize your own take on this challenge – give employees their own gratitude journals, a jar to put daily gratitude reminders, a group message board, etc.

gratitude jar post it

Summer Recess

When clear weather hits, schedule daily “recess” for your employees. Encourage them to take 15-20 minutes of time to go outside to stretch their legs, enjoy the sunshine, and socialize.

Summer recess can help you encourage participation in a step/walking challenge or just lift employees’ spirits. Make it more exciting by bringing in fun activities like cornhole and bocce ball or fun summer treats like fruit popsicles, lemonade, etc.

Another way to get your employees some extra vitamin D during the summer months is to host outdoor team meetings or you even consider walking meetings for smaller groups.

Birthday Vacation Day

Enjoying time away from work gives us the space we need to recharge for our mental health. Start a special Paid-Time-Off program where all employees get a PTO day on their birthday (or alternate if it falls on a weekend). Many employees already take their birthday off to celebrate and spend time with friends and family.

Giving one more day of PTO will likely not have a large effect on overall performance, and as long as all your employees don’t have the same birthday – you shouldn’t experience unmanageable staffing issues.

Be sure to feature special PTO as part of your total compensation. Your Austin Benefits team can help you craft custom total compensation statements showing the true value of all your benefit offerings.

Related: How to Give Employees More Choice with PTO

Peaceful Planting Project

Bringing some green into your office can have several benefits. Many plants help with air quality, serve as a relaxing place to rest your eyes, or spruce up a bland office space. Take some time for your whole team to come together to make their own planter to personalize their desk. You could also use this as an opportunity to take a field trip to a local business who specializes in planting activities.

Check out these local Michigan businesses and what they can help you create.

Painting Party

Get outside your comfort zone and get your employees’ creative juices flowing. Bring in a pottery painting studio or an instructor to guide your team through creating their own masterpiece.

Did you know that making art reduces stress hormones (cortisol), no matter your skill level? Check with local businesses to make a partnership in this mental health activity.

Bring Your Pet to Work Day/Pet-Friendly Office

Show your support for your employees’ other family – their pets. Having pets often shows a great reduction in stress. Having a pet-friendly office or allowing special pet days means your employees get to enjoy each other’s furry BFFs and not have to worry about leaving them at home.

Be sure to check on any pet allergies, and designate pet-free zones to so all your employees can enjoy their time at work.

Impromptu Chair Race

Mental health and wellness programs don’t need to be serious. Injecting some fun into your employees’ day can help relieve stress and give them a respite from monotonous work.

Surprise your employees with an Impromptu Office Chair Race just for fun. Take turns and offer silly awards for participants.

Chair Massages

A short chair massage can offer a lot of relief for your employees. Massages are great year-round, but especially during any high-stress season, your business may experience. To save money, you may be able to work with a local massage therapy school to negotiate for students to offer the massage services.

Make sure that you have reserved private space for the event to give your employees a total relaxation experience while they are still at work.

Meditate Month

Meditation has been shown to help with stress-relief and encouraging better sleep. Lead a special month worth of activities to introduce your employees to meditation techniques and habits.

Get your whole team involved by allotting a few minutes at the start of each day for a group meditation session. You can find many guided meditation scripts online to play so everyone can listen in. Share popular meditation mobile apps to help employees maintain good habits anywhere, any time.

Related: 50+ Health & Wellness Apps

Tea Time

Host a short tea (and coffee) break for your employees. Encourage everyone to disengage from their work for this break and enjoy.  Bring in tea flavors that encourage different effects so everyone can recharge in their own way. Make tea time a regular weekly occurrence – try incorporating it with other activities in your wellness program.

tea types health benefits

Book Club

Learning something new or engaging with a story can be good exercise and relaxation for the mind. If you don’t want to start a traditional book club, try out a free library exchange. The company can provide some books to start and encourage employees to bring in their old books to share with their teammates.

Relax/Game Room

Employees not so much into books? You can still dedicate a bit of space for employees to take a break and rest their mind from work stress. Try turning a small un-used office or conference room into a relaxation room with a couple comfy chairs, or add a few board games or even a more high-tech video game set up to encourage more social breaks.

Volunteer Day at Animal Shelter

Chances are many of your employees are animal-lovers and would jump at the chance to help out some furry friends in need. Ask your local animal shelters how your company can help as a group, many shelters need volunteers who can help during the work week, so consider taking a work day off to volunteer.

If you can’t dedicate an entire day to volunteer, host a lunch where all your employees get together to make fleece toys or blankets for the animals who stay in shelters. Check with your local organizations to find out what they need most!

Yoga On-Site

Yoga is known for physical health benefits, but also for its connection to mental health. Make it easy for your employees to try out some yoga moves by bringing an instructor into your office. It may help to host the event during the last hour of work, so everyone can change into their workout gear and go home comfortably. Try to arrange with a local studio for your employees to get discounted class options after you host your event.

Which mental health wellness program ideas are you interested in bringing to your workplace? For even more theme and challenge ideas for wellness programs, check out the Resource Center and our 2018 Wellness Calendar for employers.

Ready to start or improve your wellness program? The experts at Austin can help you tailor wellness and benefits to create a relevant and rewarding experience for your employees. Contact us today!

Cathy Siska COO

Erica Kommer
Director of Marketing

2018-06-07T09:24:55-05:00 Health & Wellness|