Mental Health in the Workplace

Without a doubt, mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder, have a major impact on the day-to-day life in the workplace. October is Mental Health Awareness Month so it is a great time to bring light of this in your workplace. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental health disorders affect 1 in 5 adults. In fact, the Center for Workplace Mental Health says more than 80% of employees that have access to mental health treatment are more efficient and satisfied at work. In order to cultivate a healthier, more efficient workplace, it’s important to bring awareness to mental health disorders in the workplace.

Why Is Mental Health Ignored?

Mental health disorders are at risk of going unrecognized because the symptoms can be easily hidden at work. This is in large part due to the stigma around mental health and one’s hesitation to bring awareness. Unfortunately, this hesitation can hinder discussion, recognition, and treatment that your employees desperately need. On the other hand, daily tasks can also attribute to this nonrecognition as your employees can be too caught up in their work to discuss their needs.

Disorders like anxiety and depression can go undetected for months and even years. Recognizing and treating mental health disorders starts with education. Employers should encourage their employees to feel comfortable enough to openly talk about mental health at work. Studies by the National Business Group on Health show that almost 60% of employees have never spoken to anyone at work about mental health.

Good Mental Health Improves Life for your Employees and your Business

Not only does mismanagement of mental health have a negative effect on your employees, but that negativity can spread through your entire business. The CDC lists a few examples of just how this mismanagement can affect overall job performance, including but not limited to: productivity, engagement in one’s work, communication with coworkers, physical capability, and overall daily function.

For example, depression can affect someone’s ability to complete a physical task about 20% of the time, and affect cognitive performance about 35% of the time. It’s important to bring awareness to mental health disorders so your employees can seek treatment to improve their quality of life in and outside of the workplace.

Changing the Culture Starts With You

To improve your company culture for the better you must encourage frequent, open discourse for mental health diseases and the resources to treat them. There are many ways this can be achieved, but two we want to focus on are education and mental health benefits.

Sometimes the root of the cause is a misunderstanding of what exactly mental health is. Trainings can help educate your employees on mental health and how it can affect their lives at work and home. Your employees are then able to make informed decisions about their mental health and how they try to navigate it on their own, or seek professional help. From upper management to supervisors, you should learn how to have these conversations with your employees in a comfortable manner, thus breaking the stigma.

Secondly, you should provide mental health benefits. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and going to a therapist when feeling anxious or depressed should be as normal as going to the doctor when having a fever or cough. It’s important to understand that providing mental health resources and education goes hand-in-hand. Due the amount of resources available, it’s critical to educate your employees in their search for the mental health treatment you provide. Because all too often employees are either unaware or afraid to use them due to social stigmas.

Better Mental Health Means a Better Workplace

Overall, mental health disorders in the workplace are more common than people think – and it will take time to break down the social barriers surrounding it. So, for the benefit of your business, cut the stigma and start the conversation by providing mental health education and treatment to your employees – it would be at your disadvantage not to do so.

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