One of the best things about the increasing popularity of social media and other online platforms is that they give a voice to the common people. This has opened up conversations about many topics that were often less talked about. One such topic is mental health and its relation to the workplace.
The increasing awareness, screening and diagnosis of mental illnesses has encouraged more and more people to speak up about their experiences and seek help. Currently, international bodies recognize mental illnesses as disabling, and some states even provide disability benefits for people with severe mental illnesses.
While the world is still learning, much needs to be improved on employers’ end in terms of providing recognition and support for mental illnesses. As the cofounder of a rehabilitation center for people with addiction that also provides counseling and coaching to people with mental illness, I have seen just how important it is for employers to pay attention to employees’ mental health. While most prominent companies and businesses now have mental health recognition policies, more employers must pay attention to mental well-being.
Common symptoms of mental illnesses include depressive mood, lack of interest in activities, lack of interest in interacting with other people, increased absenteeism or putting in extra-long shifts at work, irritability, increased anger and suicidal ideation. According to a 2019 study about mental health in the workplace, 60% of participants reported experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition in the last year. As a responsible employer, you need to be aware of your employees’ mental health.MORE FOR YOUHow Companies And Employees Can Face The Global Mental Health Crisis Together
Benefits Of Prioritizing Your Employees’ Mental Health
Researchers found mental illnesses like depression, stress and anxiety to be just as debilitating as some organic medical diseases like arthritis. This is why it’s important to create an environment that promotes mental well-being and provides resources and benefits for employees with such illnesses.
Some benefits of doing so include:
1. Reduced Sick Absenteeism
You’d be surprised at the percentage of employees who call in sick when they’re too depressed to get out of bed. Sick absenteeism causes repercussions like reduced pay. A better workplace encourages more people to come to work instead of avoiding it, reducing the percentage of absenteeism.
2. Better Work Output
We all know that mental illnesses can be disabling and make it hard to find motivation. Employees with mental illnesses may not be able to put in their full effort at work, and after a while, it could affect their work quality. Prioritizing your employees’ mental health can help improve their work output.
3. Healthy Employer-Employee Relationships
Who doesn’t want to work in a friendly environment, free of hostility and toxicity? Such a situation can only be achieved if you convey to your employees that their well-being is important. They will surely reciprocate empathy and friendliness to create a mutually beneficial work environment.
How To Create A Healthy Workplace
Work overload, inability to take a break, long working hours and employer hostility are all factors that can contribute to workplace depression and anxiety, or they can aggravate preexisting mental illnesses. It’s important to review your workplace policies and ensure they’re not causing unintentional harm. Here are some ways you can promote mental well-being as an employer:
1. Promote workplace equality.
2. Equally distribute the workload and try not to overburden your employees.
3. Limit the number of hours each employee needs to put in according to internationally defined criteria.
4. If possible, designate a counselor or therapist for your employees to speak to if they’re not feeling okay.
5. Recognize mental illnesses and allow sick leave for them if the need arises.
6. Ensure you’re paying your employees fairly.
7. As an employer, be kind, encouraging and empathetic to your staff. They’re only human.
8. If possible, arrange employee-bonding activities to encourage teamwork and build confidence.
Creating awareness of mental illnesses and prioritizing mental health has long-term benefits for both you and your employees. By creating a healthier work environment, employees can explore their full potential and you get the peace of mind of knowing you’re setting your business up for success. These times aren’t easy for anyone. The best we can do is be there for the people we are responsible for and hope our efforts help make the world a better place, even if it’s just for a handful of people.