Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”
Yet, despite its importance, mental health is often ignored in the workplace. According to a National Institute of Mental Health study, only half of employees with mental health problems receive treatment. This can be due to several factors, including lack of awareness and fear of stigma.
Mental health challenges are among the leading causes of disability in the workplace. It has direct and indirect costs for employers, such as lower workforce participation rates and decreased productivity. Depression alone is estimated to account for $44 billion in losses to workplace productivity, according to a recent report from Tufts Medical Center and One Mind at Work.
Employers that promote mental health can benefit in many ways. Employees who feel supported in their mental health are more productive and less likely to leave their jobs. In addition, promoting mental health can help create a more positive work environment.
Employers can play a role in promoting mental health and preventing mental health problems by implementing policies and programs, such as the 12 below:
There are many things you can do to promote work-life balance in the workplace. One of the best ways to start is for leaders to set good examples for their teams. For example, try to leave work at a reasonable hour and avoid calling or emailing employees after hours or over weekends.
Other ways to promote work-life balance include offering flexible hours and telecommuting options. Employees who have more control over their work schedule are less likely to feel overwhelmed and stressed out.
Employees who are physically healthy and practice self-care are more likely to be mentally healthy as well. Encourage your employees to look after themselves by providing them with resources on stress management and healthy lifestyle choices.
It’s also wise to promote stress-relief activities, such as exercise, yoga, and meditation, or consider subsidizing gym memberships.
Maintaining team morale is essential to building a productive and cohesive work environment; people who feel connected to their coworkers are less likely to experience stress and isolation.
Increase the levels of social connectedness in your company by organizing team-building activities or scheduling social events like parties or picnics to provide opportunities for employees to socialize.
Employees who feel supported and accepted in their workplace are more likely to be productive and happy.
Policies that promote equality and diversity can help reduce discrimination and harassment against employees who struggle with mental health. Be sure to train all your employees to recognize and report these inappropriate behaviors.
Counseling can help employees manage their mental health problems and improve their productivity at work.
Additionally, make sure you’re prepared to respond to mental health crises by implementing crisis intervention protocols. This includes providing mental health first aid training and having a mental health professional on your staff.
Get intentional about promoting mental health awareness among your workforce. This can include educating employees about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, how to seek help if they need it, and how to support a coworker who is struggling.
Employees who have a better understanding of mental health will be more likely to seek treatment if they need it. Training can also help reduce the stigma associated with mental health disorders.
If an employee is struggling with mental health issues, it’s important to encourage them to seek help. So, share information about mental health resources available to employees, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) or mental health screenings.
Also, share information on local mental health clinics and support groups or useful books, articles, and websites.
You may wish to implement workplace policies that support mental health, such as flexible work hours or the ability for shift workers to swap shifts with one another if they need to attend to a personal matter at short notice.
In addition, mental health days can greatly benefit staff who need to take a day off from work for mental health reasons.
By offering financial assistance to employees who are struggling with mental health problems, they’re better able to access the treatment they need. This could include providing mental health insurance coverage, reimbursing employees for mental health services, or providing a mental health stipend.
Also, consider offering employees Earned Wage Access (EWA). EWA allows employees to access the money they’ve already earned in several ways: the funds are automatically loaded onto a prepaid card, deposited onto the employee’s existing direct deposit, or accrued earnings are transferred into a bank account facilitated by the EWA provider. The best EWA providers also allow employees to access their earned wages through a handy mobile app.
As part of your employee benefits package, you could also offer a financial wellness program that gives people quick and easy access to financial advice and budgeting tools.
Promoting healthy work habits among employees can help reduce the stressors that lead to mental health issues. For example, encourage employees to take breaks by providing a comfortable room with seating and snacks. Breaks allow employees to rejuvenate and return to their work refreshed and motivated.
You can also promote a positive work environment by creating a culture of respect and appreciation. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are less likely to experience stress and anxiety at work.
Workplace conflict can take many different forms, and it can be difficult to deal with. In some cases, it can even lead to mental health struggles. Workplace conflict can arise for many reasons, for example, a dispute over who gets to work on the most important project, a disagreement about how to handle a difficult customer, or an argument about who should take on more work.
Address workplace conflict constructively by mediating disputes between employees, providing training on constructive communication, and establishing clear guidelines for acceptable behavior in the workplace.
It’s important to encourage open communication by promoting a culture of transparency and honesty in the workplace.
Employees who feel comfortable talking about their mental health problems in a safe, supportive space are more likely to seek help.
Mental health can affect anyone of any age, race, or gender, and everyone’s experience is unique. Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being, and it’s just as important in the workplace. Implementing some of the policies and programs mentioned above will be a win-win for employees and employers alike.
Payactiv is the partner of choice for businesses seeking to help their people participate fully in both work and life. Our all-in-one Livelihood benefits platform takes a holistic approach to improving financial wellness and increasing employee satisfaction. Our attractive, flexible workforce rewards and benefits cost nothing to your company but deliver immense value to your employees.
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