Addressing Mental Health in the Workplace

Millions of people in the United States are affected by mental illness each year. In fact, mental illnesses are some of the most common health conditions in the country. While more than 1 in 5 U.S. adults (22.8%) experience mental illness annually, only nearly half (47.2%) of people with mental illness receive treatment, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Furthermore, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that depression alone causes an estimated 200 million lost workdays each year, costing employers $17 billion to $44 billion. Depression directly impacts an organization by increasing absenteeism, triggering disability insurance and lowering productivity in the workplace.


5 Steps to a Mentally Healthy Workplace

Mental health goes far beyond treating mental illness. In fact, an employee’s mental health includes their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, as well as their emotional and social well-being. Additionally, an employee’s mental wellbeing is dynamic, meaning it is influenced by factors such as their workload, stress, and work-life balance. As such, Employers must consider various strategies that are intended to support employee mental health as part of their overall wellbeing program.

The following strategies are becoming common in progressive organizations that seek to support their employees’ mental wellbeing.

  1. Create a supportive environment.
    An organization that is dedicated to fostering employee mental health and a stigma-free workplace is one that will succeed in its efforts to support employee mental health. Make sure that any mental health initiatives are aligned with the core values and goals of your company. 
  2. Offer flexible scheduling. 
    A lack of work-life balance can negatively affect and employee’s mental health.  Employers across the country are embracing workplace flexibility to help employees better balance their work and personal lives. 
  3. Reduce stigma around mental health.
    By focusing initiatives and efforts on normalizing mental health discussions, organizations will see improvements in employee mental health and wellbeing. Consistently communicate to employees that getting help is a sign of strength, not weakness, and that your organization supports them.
  4. Make help accessible.
    Go beyond just talking about helping employees and facilitate ways for employees to get help when issues arise. For example, consider creating a procedure for managers to follow when mental health situations present themselves and offer an employee assistance program (EAP) as part of your benefits offering. 
  5. Train management.
    A critical step in creating a supportive culture around mental health is to properly train management in recognizing the signs of mental illness, excessive workplace stress, workplace bullying and burnout.  Consider standardizing a procedure for managers to follow when mental health situations present themselves so employees have a consistent experience as they are directed to resources. 

Today, it is imperative that employers prioritize their employees’ mental health and wellbeing by creating a supportive environment, reducing stigma, making help accessible and training management to connect employees with mental health resources. By promoting helpful programs and communicating openly and honestly with your employees, your organization should be able to create a culture that supports employee wellbeing.  

We’re here to help

Walsh Duffield is dedicated to helping keep your employees safe and well. Check out our video resource library for a variety of wellbeing and mental health specific content that has been created with your employees in mind.

For more information on how to integrate mental health into your organization’s culture, contact our Corporate Wellbeing Team.

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