It’s easy to get swept up in the numbers, but employers must be able to take a step back and prioritize the well-being of their employees. Mental health is an often-overlooked yet significantly impactful factor in maintaining a happy, healthy, productive team. If you’re feeling anxious, hopeless, or irritable, understand that you are not alone. 1 in 5 adults — approximately 47 million people — struggle with mental health, and those numbers are only increasing. Nearly half of all U.S. workers have been suffering from mental health issues since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. When one’s mental state is unhealthy, it can affect relationships with their family, friends, co-workers, and even customers. Simply put, it’s crucial to promote mental health in the workplace, so read on to learn more and discover ideas for supporting your workforce.
Mental Health Stigma in the Workplace
Mental health is health. It’s just as important as physical health, and yet, it’s not always taken as seriously as it should be, particularly in the workplace. This can lead to a negative stigma surrounding mental health and well-being. According to Forbes, 62% of workers are afraid to take a mental health day because they’re worried that their employers won’t take them seriously. Many employees also fear that taking a mental health day will make them appear lazy. However, taking a mental health day off is actually one of the best ways to de-stress, relax, and recharge your mind for a more productive workday.
How to Promote Mental Health and Wellbeing in the Workplace
Studies show there is a clear relationship between job satisfaction and employees’ mental health: “Poor mental health impairs job performance and interpersonal communication… it may have negative effects not only on job satisfaction but also on the safety and quality of services.”
Additionally, working long hours has a negative effect on mental health and often manifests in severe stress and depression. Unlike physical injuries, you cannot see if a person is hurting on the inside. It’s crucial employers value mental well-being to create a healthy environment.
Here are a few ways to support mental health in the workplace:
- Open Discussions
- Prioritizing mental well-being is nothing to be ashamed of. As an owner, operator, or manager, start an open discussion with your employees either as a group or during a one on one. Showing that you care about them as a person — not just an employee — will help them feel comfortable taking a mental health day off.
- Promote Health Days
- A traditional “sick day” implies a physical illness, which can create anxiety when an individual needs a mental health day. Instead, some companies have started to promote “health days” to combat this connotation.
- Implement Mental Health Awareness Training
- Understanding the importance of mental health is crucial if you want to create a positive, comfortable company culture. Mental health awareness training for employees, as well as mental health awareness for employers, provides useful tools to manage stress and levels of anxiety and/or depression. In some training, workers learn how to support someone experiencing negative mental health effects.
- Offer Access to Mental Health Programs
- Consider offering your employees access to mental health programs such as an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP often provides employees with therapy and counseling services at little to no charge. This safe-net can lead to reduced stress and increased productivity in the workplace.
Support Your Employees
Whatever industry you occupy, your employees’ physical and mental well-being play a crucial role in day-to-day success. Mental health in the workplace should not have negative stigma, especially when it comes to your employees. After all, we are only human. Reach out to third parties like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) if you are especially concerned about a team member.