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5 Easy Ways to Support New Parents' Mental Health at Work


Everyone focuses on the joys of becoming a new parent, but most people forget that this can also be incredibly challenging. As a new parent, there is a lot more that you have to deal with, from diaper changes to night feedings, and it’s physically and mentally exhausting. Unsurprisingly, research shows that both men and women are vulnerable to postpartum depression, stress disorders, and anxiety, which can have serious consequences on self-care and every aspect of health. Having to return to work at this time adds another layer of responsibility, which can stretch new parents thin, making this one of the toughest times. HR leaders and management can make this transition back to work easier by supporting new parents’ mental health through a variety of approaches.

Small changes and adjustments to your business practices can make have a huge positive impact on employee’s mental health, especially new parents, so consider making these changes.

5 Ways to Support New Parents’ Mental Health

Offer Flexible Work Schedules

Balancing work and household chores is tough enough when you’re single, but it’s a whole new ballgame when you have a baby to care for. The first month or two after birth can be especially challenging for mums because they must contend with physical recovery from childbirth, and adapt to breastfeeding and changes in hormones and emotions during this period. New parents also have to adjust to the new responsibilities of caring for a newborn, cope with sleep deprivation, and come to terms with parenthood.

One way that employers can support new parents is by offering flexible work schedules. This could include flexible start and end times, the option to work from home, or reduced hours for a certain period. This allows parents to better manage their time, seeing to their baby’s needs and scheduling work tasks with greater autonomy, while also taking care of their own physical and mental health needs.

Offer Flexible Mental Health Support

It’s not uncommon or any surprise that new parents often experience increased stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation as they navigate the challenges of caring for a newborn while managing other responsibilities. Prolonged exposure to stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation significantly raises the risk of mental illness, making mental health support an important strategy to support new parents in the workforce.

Employers can offer flexible mental health support by providing access to counseling services including online therapy, organizing support groups or workshops on managing stress and parenting, and promoting a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable seeking help. Additionally, employers can offer employee assistance programs (EAPs) that provide confidential counseling services and resources for mental health support.

Offer Maternity Leave and Parental Leave to All Parents

The absence of parental leave can adversely affect the mental health and well-being of both mothers and fathers by contributing to increased stress, anxiety, and exhaustion as they struggle to balance work and caregiving responsibilities. Without adequate time off to bond with their newborn and adjust to their new roles, parents may experience feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and burnout, which ultimately impacts their overall mental health.

This is why, one of the most important things for an employer to do to ensure parental mental health, is to offer paid maternity and paternal leave. This allows parents to take some time to recover, bond with their baby, and adjust to their new roles as parents. While essential for new mums, it’s just as important for fathers because they play an important role in early development and also reduce the burden on their spouses.

Remind and Inform Parents of Available Parental Benefits

As is often the case, most of us are oblivious to benefits or services that we don’t depend on regularly. New parents are no exception and part of being supportive as an employer means informing and reminding employees about parental benefits that are available to them while raising awareness about the importance of such benefits and how they can help. This can be conveyed using a variety of mediums including internal newsletters and mailers, intranet portals, orientation sessions, and so on.

In addition to informing new parents about programs that you offer, also consider giving them guidance on federally or locally mandated parental services to reinforce the message and ensure that employees are informed about their entitlements. This proactive approach can be particularly helpful for smaller business owners who may not be able to offer as many benefits as larger organizations.

Raise Awareness in Your Workforce

A supportive social network can make all the difference to new parents, making it easier for them to cope with the challenges of parenting and balancing work responsibilities. A large part of having such a support system depends on increased awareness among peers and recognition of the fact that having a baby is joyous but also physically and emotionally demanding. Increased awareness about common problems in the postpartum period including depression, anxiety disorders, and stress can also help to destigmatize mental health issues, making it easier for parents to communicate and seek help.

Employers can work towards this goal by promoting open discussions, organizing educational workshops, distributing informational materials, and providing employees with access to digital resources that will allow them to learn more.