Every year, 1 in 4 adults experience mental illness. And yet, only 1 in 3 who need treatment will get it. Many individuals will either take time off work or be less productive on the job. This is why focusing on mental health in the workplace is essential for your employees and your company overall.
In the US, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggests that anxiety and depression cost the economy about $1 trillion per year in lost productivity. However, the WHO also discovered that for every dollar spent on common mental health issues, there’s a return of $4 in improved productivity and health.
What are the benefits?
Benefits of supporting your employee’s mental health can include:
Improved productivity: Research has shown that about 86% of employees treated for depression and anxiety report better performance on the job. Some studies show that treatment has also reduced absenteeism and presenteeism by 40-60%.
Higher retention: A 2019 survey has shown that more than a third of the participants reported that they left a job due at least partially to mental health. Of these reports, 59% said that mental health was their primary reason for leaving.
Decreased health care and disability costs: The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that rates of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases are twice as prominent in those with severe mental health conditions.
Physical health and mental health are closely tied, and as a result, inspired a report named “Mental Health: A Workforce Crisis.” keeping their findings in mind, here are a few ways your company can promote employee mental health:
1. Learn how mental health affects your employees.
To start, managers and supervisors need to be trained in recognising the signs of emotional distress, so they can then respond in a supportive way, rather than a punitive or punishable one. Some employees may benefit from something as small as ‘hey, are you feeling stressed? Why don’t you take a short break for now and come back to what you were doing later?
A few steps you can take to understand your employees’ mental health better:
- Have mandatory mental health training for your company’s leaders to promote awareness of their wellbeing.
- Train managers on proper steps to take if they suspect or witness signs of emotional and psychological distress or substance misuse.
- Utilise mental health calculators to estimate the prevalence and potential costs of untreated depression and alcohol and substance abuse in the workplace.
2. Ensure that any private healthcare or wellbeing provisions you use provide access to mental health support.
- Learn more about the Equality Act and the Health and Safety at Work Act. As an employer you have obligations towards the health and wellbeing of your employees.
- Try to avoid any plans that offer “phantom” mental health coverage, which have buzzwords and services that are unlikely to be used, but with no real benefit. It may also be helpful to find out how many therapists, counselors, and psychiatrists are in your network.
3. Procure an employee assistance programme, or a corporate wellbeing service
Several companies use an employee assistance program (EAP) or a corporate wellbeing service to support workplace mental health. Some employees may be reluctant to utilise the resource due to the stigma surrounding mental health conditions or lack of understanding of who these confidential programs function.
However, there are a few things your company can do to improve EAP usage.
To encourage your employees to use an EAP, your company can:
- Select a provider who makes accessing the service fast, easy confidential and 24-hour, and emphasize these points to your employees.
- Provide and encourage direct access to mental health professionals in-network via phone or in-person.
- Offer your companies resources to employees as well as the members of their families.
- Make it simple for employees to know who to go to and access the proper resources.
4. Communicate and discuss mental health to reduce stigma and increase access to proper resources.
- Try to promote the benefits of managing your mental health regularly-whether in monthly newsletters or emails.
- Ensure that higher-ups and executives mention mental health when talking about recruitment and building an inclusive culture that helps employees be their best selves to work with them.
- Offer training and workshops so that employees can learn more about and better understand mental health and resilience.
5. Promote wellbeing.
- Incorporate flexibility as frequently as possible into your employee’s schedules.
- Offer access to other resources, such as meditation apps that can help improve sleep and reduce stress.
- Consider amplifying the break room or offering a meditation room, mindfulness training, or yoga classes at work.
- Encourage your employees to utilize their PTO and vacation time. Some companies choose to limit the number of vacation employees can roll over into the following year.
- Provide proper accommodations and develop a ‘return to work process to ensure that employees who need to take a leave of absence due to mental health issues can feel supported rather than shamed when they return.
And most importantly, it’s essential to create opportunities for employees to build relationships and connect, whether through company events, electronic message boards, or affinity groups. Having social support is one of the best, most effective ways to recover from and maintain mental health and wellness.