Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues can cost employers a lot of money. In fact, CIPD estimates that mental illness directly and indirectly costs the UK economy approximately £70 billion every year (2014). Absenteeism, decreased productivity, and healthcare expenses are just a few of the ways mental health problems cost employers money.
Of course, the reasons for promoting good mental health stem beyond a company’s bottom dollar. Supporting employees in feeling their best also reduces suffering on an individual level and serves as a win-win situation for everyone. Despite the multitude of benefits of promoting good mental health, most workplaces do very little to prevent or address emotional problems.
Here are 3 ways employers can promote good mental health in the workplace:
1. Create a Healthy Environment
While biology is certainly a factor in the development of mental illness, the environment also plays a large role. It’s important for employers to take a look at the lifestyle they’re promoting among workers. Expecting employees to work 80 hours a week or insisting people respond to work-related email from home are just a few of the things that can interfere with an employee’s ability to build a natural buffer against workplace stress.
Since most people spend approximately one-third of their time at work, it’s important to ensure the workplace is taking steps to promote good health. A few simple ways to foster a healthy environment include encouraging exercise, allowing for breaks where employees can socialise, and offering stress reduction workshops. Hiring a mental health professional (such as Healthcare RM) to teach mindfulness or offering access to exercise classes are just a few creative ways to bolster mental strength and develop resilience to mental health problems.
2. Help Workers Identify Mental Health Risks
Approximately 1 in 4 adults experience a diagnosable mental illness in any given year. Yet, many of them suffer in silence. Some people fail to recognise they’re experiencing a mental health issue. Instead, they may associate their symptoms with aging or assume that their problems are just a normal part of stress. Helping employees recognise their risk factors and symptoms is one of the simplest yet most effective ways for employers to help.
There are several ways business leaders can allow employees to access confidential mental health screenings. One way is to invite a mental health professional from Healthcare RM to come into the office to provide screenings. Employees can be given questionnaires that ask about their habits and symptoms. If the screening reveals a high likelihood a mental health issue, they can be referred for a complete assessment.
3. Assist Employees in Addressing Mental Health Issues
Mental health issues are very treatable, so it’s essential that employees are supported in their attempts to seek help. Allowing an employee to attend weekly therapy appointments during business hours, for example, could prevent that employee from having to take time off due to serious depression. Creating policies that support emotional wellness and treatment can ensure that employees are able to perform at their best.
While most business leaders would never step over an employee suffering a heart attack, those same leaders often ignore employees who are clearly experiencing a mental health problem. Unfortunately, ignoring mental health issues only furthers the stigma. Educating managers on how to address employee mental health can ensure that employees feel safe to talk about their concerns and it will increase the likelihood that they’ll access available resources.
All you need to do if you would like to access help, or if you would like to improve your provision for mental health in the workplace is to call Healthcare RM now! Don't wait, we're ready to help you!
Credit to author Amy Morin and original article can be found here.