According to the 2021 Mental Health at Work Report by Mind Share Partners, around 76% of employees reported symptoms of mental health problems. With the increasing prevalence of mental disorders in the workplace, it has become clear that employers and employees must take a proactive approach to managing mental health at work.
And this is not just about providing support for employees with diagnosed conditions but also addressing the general population who may be struggling under pressure and stress.
The Importance of Workplace Mental Health
The importance of workplace mental health cannot be overstated. As an employer, it is your obligation to provide a healthy and safe environment for your employees. Many benefits to this go beyond just improving their work experience:
- Workplace mental health can affect the bottom line. Studies have shown that companies, where employees feel valued by their employers and engaged in their work experience outperform those without these qualities.
- Workplace mental health can affect productivity. While having happy employees might seem like something only HR would care about, it impacts everyone within the organization since poor morale often leads to mistakes or missed deadlines. This can lead to lost sales and profits for your business, not just increased stress among staff members.
Improve Access to Care
Improving access to care is a crucial part of improving the mental health of an employee population. However, there is a disconnect between employers and employees in this aspect.
According to a McKinsey survey, 31% of employers report that providing access to care for mental health problems is a priority for them. However, 67% of employee respondents still feel that accessing mental care help is challenging. Hence, employers and employees must make extra efforts for better access to care.
The best way to improve access is through partnerships between employers and healthcare providers. This partnership can take many forms, including offering telemedicine services and partnering with primary care practices to provide employees with same-day appointments or urgent care after hours.
The importance of a good relationship between your doctor and you cannot be overstated. Having an understanding with your physician about what symptoms warrant a referral for further evaluation will increase confidence in their ability to provide effective support for you when needed and help ensure that unnecessary referrals are not made.
Finally, engaging in regular conversations about workplace health and wellness topics can impact both employee satisfaction and company culture at large. The more comfortable employees feel talking about mental health issues at work, the more likely they will share their struggles if they experience them. This kind of openness can go a long way toward improving employee engagement overall.
Seek Professional Help for Managing Workplace Stress
If your workplace is not offering assistance in managing work-related stress, you should seek professional help from a mental health professional. You can also seek help from a trusted friend or family member.
If you cannot afford to pay for a mental health professional’s services, many free resources can help you manage your stress levels at home. As a CNBC article advises, you can watch webinars, see videos about and practice meditation exercises, join online support groups, etc.
The resources available at your local library include books on managing workplace stress, articles that offer advice on dealing with stress at work, and online forums where people discuss their own experiences with workplace stress management techniques and resources they’ve found helpful in reducing workplace stress levels.
However, seeing a professional therapist is the best option for you. In fact, even an employer can collaborate with a therapist who can come to visits to consult with employees and ensure their mental health is good. Employers should find someone local when looking for a therapist to partner with.
Local therapists won’t hesitate to pay frequent visits to the workplace. Moreover, they can quickly come for a consulting session when called upon. This is especially true for locations with low access to mental health care. For instance, Florida (FL) ranks 49th in the US for access to mental health care. Hence, employers having offices in FL should find an FL therapist. This will enhance access to mental health care.
Implement Mental Health Training Programs
Mental health training is essential to any workplace mental health strategy. This can include training managers, supervisors, and employees about what to do when a staff member needs help.
The benefits of a comprehensive approach to workplace mental health include the following:
- Reducing stigma around mental illness
- Increasing employees’ access to support if they need it
- Improving the quality of life and well-being of your staff members
Develop Social and Emotional Intelligence Among Leaders
Undoubtedly, leaders are responsible for creating an emotionally healthy workplace. They must understand and manage their own emotions and those of others. In addition, they need to be able to gauge what mood the team is in as a whole and make adjustments accordingly.
Leaders’ ability to spot social cues will allow them to cultivate a culture where everyone feels safe expressing themselves freely, which can help build better relationships between employees and managers. When workers feel supported by their supervisor or boss, they are more likely to speak up about issues that might negatively impact their mental health or productivity at work.
Create a Positive and Open Workplace Environment
To help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. You can work to create a positive and open workplace environment. Promoting an environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health is important. There are many ways you can do this. For example:
- Encourage employees to talk about their mental health. Allowing open dialogue about mental wellness sends the message that your company will not judge those seeking help with their mental illness. This may be particularly effective if your organization has a policy prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities or other special needs.
- Be receptive to employees’ ideas on improving the support system at your workplace. If you’re currently lacking resources for dealing with mental illness in the workplace, let your staff know so they can suggest ways of rectifying it. By encouraging employee input into important decisions like these, you’ll set yourself up for success when it comes time for implementation later down the line.
The good news is that employers and employees are working together to create a positive and open workplace culture for promoting mental health, especially post-Covid-19. According to the 2021 Future of Benefits study by The Hartford, 59% of employees feel their company has been more accepting of mental health discussions and challenges.
Ultimately, it’s important to remember that workplace mental health doesn’t just affect the employee. It affects everyone involved in the process, from HR to leadership. The burden of care cannot be placed solely on employees who need help. It must also be shared by those who work alongside them every day.
Taking steps toward improving workplace mental health isn’t just an ideological goal. It’s a necessity if we want workers of all ages and backgrounds to feel valued and supported by their employers, so they can put forth their best effort without worrying about how they will be treated when things get tough at work.