It’s Time To Start Taking Mental Health Seriously in the Workplace
In a country where nearly 1 in every 5 adults reported a mental illness in 2016, you would think mental health would be a widely-talked-about subject. And yes, even at work. Thanks to recent moves made by athletes Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka to prioritize their mental health over work, now people are talking about it more. After all, the majority of our time is spent at work, and it’s no secret that our well-being affects our productivity in the workplace, too.
The reality is employers still have a lot of work to do to address mental health issues at work. In addition, younger workers are increasingly looking to support companies with strong values, including supporting their employees. So as the demand for mental health awareness increases across the board, it’s time for employers to step up to the plate.
The problem with not taking mental health seriously at work
Learning how to better support the well-being and reduce the stress of employees leads to a better outcome in the workplace for both employers and their employees. Because when mental health isn’t openly discussed in the workplace, poor mental health issues and stress can adversely affect an employee’s:
● Productivity level and job performance.
● Involvement with one’s work.
● Communication with coworkers.
● Physical capability and daily functioning.
These adverse outcomes aren’t great for an employee’s wellbeing, and they certainly don’t have a good effect on a workplace either. So while stigmas paint discussions on mental health as taboo, the wellbeing of working American adults only continues to deteriorate. This is why employers must build awareness of the importance of mental health and stress management in the workplace.
More and more workplaces are incorporating health programming that has proven to be successful. Plus, it also helps that the office is already the perfect scene to “create a culture of health.” With communication boundaries and processes already in place, social support readily available, and the help of data to track progress, the workplace is an optimal environment for promoting good physical and mental health
How can employers start to support mental health at work?
Companies can create an inclusive, welcoming climate at work that supports the health of their employees by taking some action steps that include:
● Host workshops that address mental health issues and stress management techniques
● Create dedicated quiet spaces for relaxing at work
● Offer health insurance plans with no or low out-of-pocket costs for counseling and medication
● Provide opportunities for employees to be a part of decisions that affect work stress
Creating a healthy workplace might not happen overnight, but it’s time for us to acknowledge the fact that employees don’t leave their emotions at the door of their workplace. Our mental health affects every aspect of our lives, and it’s essential that we take care of it, especially at work.
Mental illness isn’t shameful, so let’s not shy away from discussing the issues that affect our day-to-day lives. Because the sooner we address mental health in the workplace, the sooner we can create a society that is overall happier and healthier.