Supporting Mental Health in the Workplace

Many managers assume that an employee’s emotional and mental health is none of their concern. In fact, it can have an enormous impact on their performance, as well as that of their co-workers. It can also negatively impact the company’s bottom line.

One in five Americans has a diagnosable mental health condition, so it’s a business imperative to prioritize emotional and mental health in the workplace.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that mental illness and substance abuse cost businesses between $79 and $105 billion yearly. Reduced productivity, absenteeism, and higher healthcare costs are just a few ways mental illness costs employers.

Creating a Healthy Workplace

A healthy workplace is one where workers and managers actively contribute to the working environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety and well-being of all employees.

Mental health interventions should be delivered as part of an integrated health and wellness strategy that covers prevention, early identification, support and rehabilitation.

A recent World Health Organization-led study estimated that for every $1 put into scaled-up treatment for mental health disorders, businesses realize a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

Encourage Good Employee Mental Hygiene

It’s up to leadership to set the tone for a healthy working environment, so here are a few tips that can help:

Promote work/life balance. Management needs to walk the walk and talk the talk so teams will be comfortable knowing that their “me” time is valuable. Encourage employees to use their paid time off. Leadership must do the same to serve as role models.

No 24/7 email. Promoting an environment where employees are expected to be “always on” isn’t healthy. Volkswagen has a great employee-centric email policy: Servers stop routing messages 30 minutes after the end of employees’ shifts and restart 30 minutes before they return.

End the cult of overwork. The pervasiveness of always-on work culture can be harmful. It’s not healthy when employees compete to be last to leave the office, nor should it be a status symbol to continually talk about how busy they are. Productivity and performance — not hours logged — should be the predictors of success.

Encourage the use of EAPs. Mentally healthy employees are more productive, have fewer absences, and are less prone to work-related injuries. When management encourages team members to use EAP services, employees gain confidence that they’re working in a supportive environment. This, in turn, can improve satisfaction and employee engagement.

As always, we are here to serve you and your organization to help keep your people productive at home, at work, at life. Please feel free to contact us anytime to discuss your needs and how SWEAP can better serve you.