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Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important

Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important
Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important
A person's mental health is just as important as their physical health. When a person is mentally healthy, they are able to cope with stress, have a positive outlook on life, and be productive.
Posted in: Culture
Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important
Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important

Most of us were taught about regular doctor and dentist check-ups when we were young. But more recently, many people are paying closer attention to their mental health in addition to their physical well-being.

One area receiving a great deal of attention is the workplace. After all, we spend at least half our waking hours at work five days per week. If your workplace is toxic, it's hard to imagine that your overall mental health could be stellar.

For employers, it's crucial to understand how the relationship works both ways. Employees suffering from mental health issues don't leave them at the door, which impacts everyone.

Before we dive in, it's critical to note that every workplace is different, and each has employees with unique needs. 

All About Mental Health in the Workplace 

All About Mental Health in the Workplace

Mental health is a broad topic, but one of the essential things to understand is that mental health is not the same as the absence of mental illness. You can be free from chronic disease and physically unhealthy, just like you can be free from mental illness and be mentally unhealthy.

Another key fact is that mental health issues and struggles are pervasive. According to the National Institute of Health, approximately one in five Americans lives with a mental illness or mental health struggles.

Unless you work alone, it almost certainly touches your place of employment.

A person's mental health is intricately tied to their work in several ways. We spend hours at our jobs interacting with coworkers.

When your place of employment or fellow employees are mentally bad for you, you will struggle. In addition, if your work isn't satisfying, that can be a severe drain.

Finally, workplaces play a role. In the extreme, some can become abusive, opening the organization to liability. But even when it's not, employers should be vested in protecting their employees' mental well-being. 

Why Does Workplace Mental Health Matter? 

Workplace mental health matters for a number of reasons. 

First and foremost, mental illness can have a significant impact on job performance. Employees who are struggling with their mental health are more likely to make mistakes, miss deadlines, and have difficulty concentrating. They're also more likely to take more sick days and be less productive when they are at work.

In addition, mental illness can lead to increased absenteeism and turnover. Employees who are dealing with mental health issues are more likely to call in sick or quit their jobs altogether. 

When turnover rates are high, it costs businesses time and money to find and train new employees. Finally, workplace mental health matters because it impacts employee morale. 

When employees are struggling with their mental health, it can be difficult for them to find enjoyment in their work. 

This can lead to a negative work environment and lower levels of job satisfaction.  

Here are 3 good reasons to remember.

Employees are People First 

Many organizations like to tout themselves as families, but that only works if you back up your words with actions.

If you want your employees to feel a sense of camaraderie, togetherness, and belonging to your company, you need to care about them. This includes caring about their mental well-being.

Loyalty, Retention, and Productivity 

 A person's mental health impacts every aspect of their life, including job performance. A mentally unhealthy person faces additional challenges.

If a person's workplace contributes to their mental unease, they're more likely to quit. Regardless, a person with mental health issues may be less productive, miss more days of work, and exhibit poor judgment.

It's Your Responsibility 

 We've already mentioned that employees spend a lot of time at work. They choose to give their time and talents to your organization. In return, it's your responsibility to create an environment that fosters their health.

Depending on your state and municipality, you may also have legal obligations to meet mental health standards. Include mental health in your compliance checks.

What Does a Mentally Healthy Workplace Look Like?

What Does a Mentally Healthy Workplace Look Like?

A mentally healthy workplace isn't afraid to talk about mental health. In fact, it encourages open dialogue and welcomes suggestions to make improvements.

They also provide the resources employees need to protect themselves. This includes health benefits with good psychological care.

Larger companies especially can provide other resources, like gym or yoga memberships, and other programs, like subscriptions to relaxation or meditation apps.

A mentally healthy workplace must also pay special attention to workplace-related risk factors. These unique characteristics of your industry or business raise your employees' risk of mental health struggles.

For instance, Path stands out as a vital resource for organizations looking to support their teams. By making it easy to find a licensed therapist who's in-network with an employee's insurance and seasoned in addressing their specific needs, they're demystifying the process and placing personalized care within reach.

The risk factors in some jobs are apparent, such as first responders developing PTSD. But others are less so.

For example, a customer service employee might deal with many unpleasant people. Or, a teacher may struggle with seeing students come to school without enough food.

Nowhere are the risk factors more evident than in healthcare, where doctors and nurses face the threat of violence and harassment on a regular basis. While the implementation of safety measures like wireless panic buttons can go a great distance toward empowering these workers, it remains vital for managers to check in regularly to ensure their mental well-being.

Finally, your employees need to know that you'll follow through and provide what they need to thrive. Ensure your human resources department has an open-door policy and a good rapport with staff. 

Tips for Improving Mental Health in Your Workplace 

Tips for Improving Mental Health in Your Workplace

A healthy workplace is one where employees feel mentally and emotionally supported. In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on the importance of mental health in the workplace. Start with these expert tips to improve the mental health environment in your workplace.

Listen to Your Employees' Needs

The best thing you can do is listen to what your employees need. There's no point in providing a new break room if your employees actually need better health care. In fact, that can worsen relations.

Provide Assessment Tools and Follow-Up  

Besides creating an environment where employees feel empowered to speak up, employers can provide tools to help them assess whether they might need professional help.

Honor and Foster Breaks  

No one can work for hours on end without breaks. Therefore, as an employer, you have an obligation (including a legal obligation) to honor break times.

Let your employers take control of their breaks. While you must comply with all laws, listen to what your employees need to truly recharge for the rest of their day.

You can look into food carts or deliveries, provide a space to get away from electronics, or encourage spending time outdoors.

Require Training for All Levels

You must educate all of your staff on your company's new mental health policies and how they pertain to everyone's role. In particular, managers must know how to respond to their direct reports.

If you tell staff they can take mental health days, their supervisors can't be angry when they do so.

Prioritize Workplace Mental Health

The topic of mental health can be a scary one for many reasons. For employers, you have to protect your staff while respecting their privacy.

Keeping mental health at the top of your priority list allows you to keep things in your workplace running smoothly. 

More importantly, you'll have a happy, well-adjusted team.

  1.  Encourage open communication. Stigma surrounding mental health can make it difficult for people to speak up about their struggles. Create an open and nonjudgmental environment where employees feel comfortable talking about their mental health.
  2. Promote work-life balance. A healthy work-life balance is essential for good mental health. Encourage your employees to take breaks, use their vacation days, and disconnect from work when they`re not at the office.
  3. Offer mental health resources. Make sure your employees know about the mental health resources that are available to them, such as employee assistance programs, counseling services, and meditation apps.
  4. Be mindful of burnout. Burnout is a real problem in today`s workplace. Look for signs of burnout in your employees and encourage them to take steps to prevent it, such as setting realistic expectations and taking time for themselves outside of work.
  5. Check in with your employees. Regular check-ins with employees can help you identify early signs of mental health problems. These conversations should be open and honest, with a focus on finding solutions that work for both the employee and the company.
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Friday, 19 July 2024
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