Employee mental health problems can impact a business quite seriously. Approximately 80% of adults with depression report at least some difficulty with their work, home, or social activities, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Among the many dimensions of wellness, mental health in the workplace and associated issues are more difficult to pinpoint than physical concerns. The result is that disorders such as anxiety and depression often go undetected for months or years.
Employees seem to want their employers to look out for their mental health and wellbeing despite mental health being a taboo topic, especially in the workplace. Businesses realize that employee wellness must be prioritized to address mental health concerns and maintain a healthy business.
According to the American Psychological Association’s Work and Well-being Survey of 2021, 37% of working adults indicated that providing mental health resources may help achieve a psychologically healthy work environment for employees. As organizations become more aware of how employees struggle with mental health issues, they are starting to address these challenges.
Why Mental Health in the Workplace Benefits Employees and Employers
The word healthy usually conjures up images of physical wellbeing, such as low cholesterol levels, good cardiovascular strength, and the absence of disease. However, countless individuals experience mental health concerns as debilitating as the worst physical illnesses.
In a competitive environment like the workplace, mental health challenges have a compound impact. Employees may experience burnout quite frequently due to pressure to keep up with deadlines, presentations, and following a routine regimen.
Stress and poor mental health in the workplace can lead to:
- Dip in productivity and job performance of employees
- Lower work engagement
- Greater divide in communication between co-workers
- Financial losses for businesses
People living with mental illnesses, such as depression, have higher unemployment rates. Mental health issues can make life quite challenging for the employees who have them. If these problems remain unresolved for a long time, they can impact society as a whole.
How can Employers Support Mental Health in The Workplace?
An ideal approach to leadership in the workplace shows that managers’ roles are basically the same regardless of the circumstances. They have the responsibility to support and guide their team members. That includes supporting their mental health. A basic checklist for employers and management to address mental health concerns in the workplace includes:
- Creating a dedicated mental health policy and setting wellness goals within the organization.
- Providing on-site medical and mental health support to the workforce.
- Making employees aware of the signs associated with deteriorating mental health. Such awareness can help employees develop a wellness plan for mental health.
- Providing free counseling sessions with medical professionals for employees struggling with mental health.
- Providing flexible working hours to promote greater work-life balance.
- Encouraging employees to try different therapies and allowing a certain number of mental health days off.
- Encouraging employees to openly speak up about work-related stress and burnout without being judged.
- Conducting mindfulness and workplace yoga sessions.
Various treatments are available depending on the type of mental health problem, its severity, and what works best for the individual. Combinations of treatments are often the most effective.
If there are mild mental health symptoms, treatment from primary care may be sufficient. A team approach is often necessary to meet all mental health, medical, and social needs. This is of particular importance in cases of serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Treatment usually involves doctors, nurses, family members, and counselors or therapists in a team approach.
There are various medications available to treat people with mental health disorders. These include:
- Antidepressants. Antidepressants are used to treat depression, anxiety, and sometimes other conditions. They can alleviate symptoms such as sadness, hopelessness, lack of energy, difficulties concentrating, and lack of interest in activities. Antidepressants are not addictive and usually don’t lead to dependency.
- Anti-anxiety medications. Anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder, can be treated with these drugs. They help to reduce agitation and insomnia. They are usually used as long-term anti-anxiety drugs, typically antidepressants that also work for anxiety. Despite their effectiveness in short-term relief, fast-acting anti-anxiety medications can also lead to dependency, so they’re best for short-term use only.
- Mood-stabilizing medications. Bipolar disorders, which involve alternating periods of mania and depression, are commonly treated with mood stabilizers. Sometimes mood stabilizers are used together with antidepressants to treat depression. Some examples of mood stabilizers are Carbamazepine and Depakote.
- Antipsychotic medications. Antipsychotic drugs are commonly used to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia. The use of antipsychotic medications for treating a bipolar disorder or depression is also possible.
Psychotherapy is another effective treatment method for many mental health disorders. Also known as talk therapy, this treatment involves patients expressing their feelings and thoughts for the therapist to assess and treat their mental condition. Make sure this is done by a licensed professional. During psychotherapy, the individuals learn about their disorder and the different moods, feelings, and thoughts influencing their behavior. With the insights and knowledge you gain from psychotherapy, you can learn to look after your mental health.
Various types of psychotherapy exist, each with its unique approach to improving mental health. Psychotherapy can often be completed in a few months, but in some cases, long-term treatment may be needed. It can take place in one-on-one, group, or family sessions.
When choosing a therapist, it’s essential to feel comfortable and confident that he or she will listen to what you have to say. You should also ensure that your therapist understands the journey that has shaped who you are and how you live.
Employees must be educated about mental health resources to prevent burnout and avoid mental health crises. Businesses that invest in their employees’ mental health and encourage open communication about mental health issues will develop a positive environment in which people want to work. It’s a win-win situation for all parties.
About the Author:
Anjan Pathak is the Co-Founder & CTO of Vantage Circle, a cloud-based employee engagement platform, and Vantage Fit, an all-in-one corporate wellness platform. He is an HR technology enthusiast, very passionate about employee wellness, and actively participates in corporate culture growth. He is an avid reader and likes to be updated on the latest know-how of Human Resources.
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The opinions and views expressed in any guest blog post do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in the article or linked to therein. Guest Authors may have affiliations to products mentioned or linked to in their author bios.
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