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Written by Lotte van RijswijkLotte van Rijswijk

Slack emojis to help employees communicate mental health at work

25 min read
Slack emojis to help employees communicate mental health at work
It’s a new era for mental health in the workplace. The tribulations of the global pandemic in 2020 highlighted the importance of honesty, compassion and commitment to a policy that supports well-being in an authentic way.

According to Mindshare’s 2021 Mental Health at Work report, 76% of people reported experiencing at least one symptom of a mental health condition, and 84% pointed to at least one factor in their workplace that made them feel worse.

Open communication is vitally important, and 65% of respondents said they have spoken to someone at work about a mental health issue. However, it can be a challenge to maintain this transparency on an instant messaging platform like Slack.

Whether your business operates fully remote, a hybrid model or full-time office work, communications are becoming increasingly reliant on these tools. They make business more efficient but can also be harmful to colleagues’ mental health, whether intentional or not. It can be much harder to gauge how someone is feeling when all you have for reference is a profile photo.

What We Did

To help staff and managers better communicate their mental health challenges through virtual communication, Resume.io has created a series of emojis for Slack. These icons have been designed with specific workplace policies in mind, including self-care days and mental health first aid, and to promote healthier remote workplaces.

8 New Emojis That Visualize Mental Health in the Workplace

Whether you’re feeling overwhelmed, isolated or need a self-care day to disconnect from work, this emoji pack will help you and your team communicate more transparently about mental health issues.

The Emoji Pack contains 8 icons to help staff openly notify colleagues when they need support with their mental health, and for trained first aiders to make themselves visible when colleagues need them.

To get the best out of this emoji pack, everyone in your workplace should understand how they work, with the compassion and kindness to understand the mental health issues behind the emojis. 

To visualize these emojis in practice and help you and your team understand how to utilize them best, we’ve created a series of mock conversations with each emoji in use.

Read below to find out more about them:

Away for the Rest of the Day

A survey by Asana found that excessive instant messages and interference in the workplace contribute to a poorer work-life balance. With notification overload a more common sight in workplaces today, we wanted to create an emoji which clearly communicates when someone is away from their desk

Slack Mental Health Emojis Away For The Rest of The Day
Slack Mental Health Emojis Away For The Rest of The Day

Download the emoji pack here 

Bad Mental Health Day

Almost 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. live with a mental health condition. Whether you’ve been diagnosed or not, people need some time off to look after their mental health every now and again. While paid sick leave varies between businesses, we should expect our bosses to treat mental health absence in the same vein as a physical illness. We created this emoji to raise awareness and support for those taking absence for bad mental health days.

Slack Bad Mental Health Day
Slack Bad Mental Health Day

Download the emoji pack here 

Feeling Lonely

Loneliness in the workplace is becoming increasingly common, particularly as more businesses shift towards hybrid and fully-remote models. An MIT survey in 2020 found that 76% of workers struggled to make connections with their colleagues. It can be hard to build relationships when starting a new role, so an emoji which communicates when a colleague is feeling isolated creates a more open culture around conversation in the workplace.

Slack Feeling Lonely
Slack Feeling Lonely

Download the emoji pack here 

Feeling Overwhelmed

Too much work, too little time. It’s a resonant feeling for much of America’s workforce. A report from Indeed found that more than half of people (52%) are suffering from burnout, and more than two-thirds (67%) feel their situation has worsened as a result of the pandemic. Whether you work in a demanding role or things are just really busy at the moment, this emoji will help communicate your feelings of overwhelm before burnout takes hold.

Slack Feeling Overwhelmed
Slack Feeling Overwhelmed

Download the emoji pack here 

Green Ribbon

The COVID-19 pandemic and events of the last two years have caused immense strain on humanity’s mental health. It is more important than ever to treat mental health issues with the same care and commitment as physical health issues. The Green Ribbon is used to represent awareness of mental health, and World Mental Health Day - celebrated every year on October 10th.

Slack Green Ribbon
Slack Green Ribbon

Download the emoji pack here 

Imposter Syndrome

Humility is a very human emotion, and many of us experience self-doubt from time to time. Imposter syndrome encapsulates this feeling, with sufferers anxious that they may be exposed as a fraud. We created this ‘mask’ emoji to help create a more honest culture in the workplace around imposter syndrome, encouraging more support for those experiencing feelings of inadequacy.

Slack Imposter Syndrome
Slack Imposter Syndrome

Download the emoji pack here 

Mental Health First Aider

More than 5 million people are trained as mental health first aiders in 24 countries around the world. The stress and pressures of modern society make tackling urgent mental health issues more important, and care at a critical time can save lives. By creating an emoji for this, trained mental health first aiders can make themselves visible on Slack so those in urgent need of care in the workplace can easily identify them.

Slack Mental Health First Aider
Slack Mental Health First Aider

Download the emoji pack here 

Self-Care Day

Self-care is vitally important to improve your mental health, manage stress and overcome adversity. It can be a challenge for many to dedicate time for themselves with the pressures of the modern workplace. The National Institute for Mental Health recommends regular sleep, exercise and dedicated relaxation techniques such as meditation or breathing exercises to care for yourself, but sometimes it isn’t enough. The Self-Care Day emoji is there for those who need a day to focus on themselves away from work.

Slack Self-Care Day
Slack Self-Care Day

Download the emoji pack here 

How Do I Install The Emoji Pack on my Slack Workspace?

Unsure about how to import emojis into Slack? The handy guide below will talk you through step-by-step how to download and install them onto your workspace so you and your colleagues can use them.

Whether you’re a CEO, team manager or it’s your first day on the job - we can all benefit from more transparency around mental health. Any organization should be willing to listen to new processes that could benefit everyone, especially if it creates a more open and supportive culture around mental health.

Slack Mental Health Emojis Guidance
Slack Mental Health Emojis Guidance

Why did We Create the Slack Emoji Pack?

Mental health is an important topic in the workplace, and it can be a challenge for many businesses to ensure their remote working practices support the well-being of their staff. It can be difficult to gauge how someone’s emotions are when they are hidden behind a Slack photo.

A recent survey by the American Psychological Report found that 87% of workers believe actions from their employer would improve their mental health at work. While business-led initiatives like mental health days and free self-care app subscriptions are welcome, a culture of openness around mental health issues is vital for those who need support.

To enable workspaces to better understand how employees are feeling, we designed eight custom Slack emojis that team members at every level of an organization can use, adding visibility to unseen mental health issues online.

As with any business, these initiatives must come from the top. Senior managers and owners should encourage a culture of transparency where employees feel comfortable communicating their mental health without stigma.

The emoji pack can be downloaded here

Resources

Mindshare Partners. (2021) 2021 Mental Health at Work Report mindsharepartners.org

Asana. (2022) Embracing the new age of agility asana.com

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022) Mental Health in the Workplace. cdc.gov

Hadley, C.N., Mortensen, M. (2020) Are Your Team Members Lonely? sloanreview.mit.edu

Threlkeld, K. (2021) Employee Burnout Report: COVID-19’s Impact and 3 Strategies to Curb It. indeed.com

Mental Health First Aid International. (2022) Mental Health First Aid International. For Everyone. For Anywhere. mhfainternational.org

National Institute for Mental Health. (2022) Caring for Your Mental Health. nimh.nih.gov

American Psychological Association. (2021) The American workforce faces compounding pressure apa.org

Kelly, J. (2021) Companies Are Giving Workers A Free Week Off To Improve Morale, Mental Health And Burnout forbes.com

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