This past Wednesday was World Mental Health Day. The goal of the day is to raise both awareness and advocacy of mental health issues around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that approximately 1 in 4 people are affected by mental health disorders at some point in their lives. It is to everyone’s benefit that mental health struggles are no longer being swept under the rug. However, there is still work to do in removing the stigma that people still feel when discussing this topic.
In the US, mental illness is the leading cause of disability for adults ages 15-44. It is important to have a workplace culture that is both sympathetic and proactive in helping employees who may struggle with any form of mental illness. The WHO estimates that mental illness costs the global economy approximately $1 trillion in lost productivity. Other statistics report that there are more work days lost to mental health issues than to any other illness or injury combined. Most adults spend almost 1/3 of their time at work. So what can employers due to provide a working environment that helps encourage good mental health and provide help and assistance to those who may be struggling?
Promote healthy living through employee wellness programs. Good physical health can help alleviate the symptoms of many mental health disorders. Providing healthy snacks, encouraging exercise, and other healthy initiatives can help improve not only the physical, but also the mental health, of the workforce.
Encourage employees to use their lunch breaks and vacation time to help manage and combat stress and burnout. Read our past blogs on the importance of taking vacations and the value of taking a lunch break. Consider having a qualified person come in to conduct a stress reduction workshop, teach employees about the benefits of a meditation practice, or lead a short yoga class.
Invite a mental health professional to come in for free screenings or use an online screening service. In addition to people being reluctant to seek help for mental health issues, some people are unable to recognize when they might need help.
Educate managers on how to address employee mental health issues. This includes knowing about regulations that are enforced under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While respecting an individual’s privacy, be open to having a dialogue with them about what reasonable accommodations may be needed to help them perform their duties.
Create company policies that foster a supportive environment as individuals seek help. For example, allow for some flexibility for employees to make appointments to see doctors, therapists, or counselors.
Mental health can often be a difficult to talk about, but employers and company leaders can take the lead to destigmatize mental health issues. Contact us at De Novo HRC and we can assist you in scheduling a stress reduction workshop or any of the above options at your workplace.