Executive Report

How to Manage Mental Health in the Workplace

According to research by Lyra, 40 percent of workers reported dealing with one or more acute mental health conditions at the close of 2020 and nearly half of all employees surveyed reported that their mental health has impacted their work during the year. More than 50 percent of employees with mental health issues have not received treatment during the period surveyed.

Employee well-being has a direct impact on productivity, so addressing mental health issues has a bottom-line impact but there’s other reasons to find effective ways to support mental health in the workplace.

Today’s workers are looking for employers who create a culture of connection and demonstrate a commitment to mental health. This is a radical departure from the days when employees were expected to emote cheery professionalism and hide their mental health struggles. The old stigmas and prejudices falsely equated the needs of employees as an obstacle to positive business outcomes, but nothing could be further from the truth. Employees who feel valued and feel a sense of belonging are less likely to quit. When employees have the opportunity to address their mental health challenges, they are likely to become more engaged.

Trust is important to today’s employee. In McKinsey’s Great Attrition Survey, 46 percent of employees who quit were motivated by a desire to work with people who trust and care for each other. Employees want real connections and want to be seen as they are.

Mental health issues are a factor in turnover. In a 2019 survey of 1,500 U.S. workers by Mind Share Partners, fifty percent of Millennials and seventy five percent of Gen Z-ers reported that mental health reasons played a part in either voluntarily or involuntarily leaving a job.

Despite the prevalence of mental health issues and their impact on job performance, the majority of employees have never shared their mental health needs with anyone at their place of employment. It is highly likely that this silent issue is having a significant impact on your business, your employees, and yourself.

Employers who want to support and retain their employees are taking the steps to meet this need. The first steps are to ensure that health insurance plans cover mental health in a meaningful way. Having an Employee Assistance Programs in place is a form of emotional first aid. Other employers provide mental health and wellness apps for on the go support. While these steps are important, there is an opportunity for employers to make a commitment to transforming workplace culture. These visionaries are seeking to create mentally healthy workplaces and to reduce the stigma of mental health issues.

Like every successful initiative, top leadership has a key role to play. According to research, the most desired attributes of a mentally healthy workplace include an open and accepting culture, well trained employees and supervisors, and clearly defined ways to ask for support.

Steps Companies Can Take to Create a Mentally Healthy Culture

  • Assess your organization’s culture. Does your organization normalize and applaud vulnerability? To truly implement mental health programs, your company must be committed to destigmatizing mental health struggles. Those at the top are best able to model the acceptance of vulnerability necessary to create a psychologically safe culture.
  • Train employees at all levels. Ensure that all employees know what resources are available and how to access them. Empower employees through training that focuses on resilience and stress management. Make sure to break myths and destigmatize mental health struggles.
  • Make mental health benefits a priority when selecting your health insurance plans.
  • Ensure that supervisors and human resources employees are well-trained to provide support and resources while not stepping into the role of therapist.
  • Understand mental health in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. One size doesn’t fit all.

Steps Leaders Can Take

  • Leaders at all levels of your company should model healthy vulnerability. People in positions of power have a role in destigmatizing mental health struggles. When supervisors articulate challenges, they model acceptance and become more relatable. This connection is powerful.
  • Make sure your words and actions are in alignment. Make your healthy boundaries visible and encourage your employees to do the same. Make sure your team members feel comfortable turning off the phone, taking a much-needed break, or asking for support.
  • Communicate frequently, especially during stressful times. Provide as long a timeline as possible around organizational changes. Help employees prioritize.
  • Connect with your team members. Ask how they are doing. See if they need support. Listen to their answers and respect their boundaries. Remember trust is something that builds over time.
  • Be inclusive and aware of the needs of other people but do not decide for them. Support needs to be individualized.

Contact us today to learn more about our customized programs designed to meet your businesses specific needs.

Susan E. Manno, P.A. SCP, CEO & Director of Legal Compliance, TANDIUM Corporation

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