Mental Health in the Workplace

09 October 2017

Mental Health in the Workplace

Employee burnout and strains on mental health can affect more than just productivity in the workplace. If not addressed, burnout could spell disaster for both employees and a business or project. How can managers mitigate the risks to employees and their fellow workers? How can you build a mentally healthy workforce?

In this article, we discuss how you can understand, identify, and manage a workplace that prioritizes your workers mental health and wellbeing.

Mental Health in the Workplace by GoContractor

The Stats

It’s approximated that one in five adults, or some 51 million people in the US, suffer from a mental health issue, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Further numbers from NIMH suggest that over 13 million people have experienced a serious mental illness in a given year, which seriously limits a person’s ability to conduct a daily activity, such as work.

When you examine the various mental health in the workplace issues within the workplace, 31% of employees said they feel stressed out or tense, on any given working day, according to The American Psychological Association.

What this means for you as an employer is that you may have to spend more time incorporating mental health awareness into your organization by developing a blueprint. You can build on existing tools to “counter the costly effects” of a mental health issue, which in the long-term will ensure your worker is safe, reduce costs, and create a positive environment; where workers aren’t afraid to approach management with an issue.

Building a Mentally Healthy Workforce

Evaluate Your Current Mental Health Programs

The first thing you should do is look at your existing mental health benefits and health services. You may want to ask yourself a few questions: what kind of benefits do you offer? Are those enough? What is the nature of your mental health service that you provide?

Calculate the Cost of Mental Health Issues

Try to look at the costs that mental illnesses are causing your company and employees. Once you’ve got a clear picture, you can look at the funding and make a judgement to determine if funding needs to be increased or not.

Get an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the installment of an appropriate EAP program will improve emotional well-being and create quick improvements in work performance. As you may know, these types of mental health programs involve advice and counseling services for employees. In a lot of cases, the issues that your employees may be dealing with can be resolved over time, but some may require more professional help. This may translate into reductions in lost productivity, absenteeism, and healthcare costs. By implementing an EAP, you can ensure your workers get all the help they need so they can return to work as soon as possible, increasing the levels of productivity and morale within the workforce.

Educate Your Managers

The education of your management regarding mental health issues is extremely important. People with mental health issues want to speak to people who understand them, or try to understand where they are coming from. This may start with something as small as a conversation between the manager and the employee regarding an issue. The education process could start at the orientation process, with online training significantly speeding up the overall training. You can tailor your training program so you include the relevant information regarding mental health and curate your content differently depending on the nature of the orientation. Therefore, employees and managers will get different information regarding mental health and how best to approach it.

Offer Mental Health Screening

Early identification of a mental illness can save money and act as one of the most effective tools to ensure your workers are mentally healthy. This is why you should consider a mental health screening, possibly even at the onset of employment. It will ensure that you have a better understanding of your employee and their needs and you can alter your plans accordingly.

Mental health issues can put employers in difficult situations. There are usually no physical symptoms associated with mental health issues so noticing worker’s problems can pose difficulties for any employer; a big problem, given that mental health issues cost employers large amounts of money every year. The best plan is a preemptive strategy that recognizes the importance of mental health and aims to create an open work environment with a mentally healthy workforce where adequate training and counseling is provided. Incorporating a mental health strategy is a must for all companies as it will reduce costs by minimizing rates of absenteeism and increasing worker productivity.

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Sonya Sikra

Sonya is the Brand Strategy Manager at GoContractor. She specializes in communicating how implementing tech in construction can drive productivity and profit.

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