Startup fills gap with own mental health guide

Jul 19, 2016

Proving the old saying that necessity is the mother of invention, a Vancouver-based tech startup developed a mental health guide for its employees because nothing available met their needs.

Since launching four years ago, online bookkeeping firm Bench has swelled to 230 employees.

After hunting around for guidance on preventing burn-out and improving workplace mental health – and coming back empty-handed – the company's founders decided to put together their own guide. As well as providing advice for workers about how to cope with stress, professional burnout and anxiety, the resource includes personal stories and quotes from employees.

What started as an in-house document has now been made public in an effort to share knowledge and give other small and medium businesses wanting to develop similar initiatives a head-start. 

"We want to be open and honest"

Bench co-founder Jordan Menashy told the Vancouver Sun that the business wants employees to be the best they can be in all areas of their lives, including mental health.

“There are few aspects as important as [our people's] mental well-being," he said. "We want to be open and honest about any challenge you’re having, not just physical health.”

While parts of the manual are specific to Bench, the tools and approaches it suggests can be applied to any workplace. As well as clear advice on how to handle stress and seek professional support, the guide provides tips on how employees can take care of their own mental health.

There's also guidance for how to have a conversation with a colleague about mental health.

One of the most encouraging signs when reading the guide is the clear support that Bench's management team provides to their employees – one that will certainly be rewarded with less turnover, higher productivity and a happier work environment for everyone.

Could your business benefit from a mental health guide?

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