“Well, at least you have your health.” We’ve all heard it before. The one silver lining, when the rest your life crumbles into infinitesimal specks of nothingness around you.
Your health is important. So important it’s a pretty unanimous opinion that looking after employees’ health makes a business more successful. Most organizations offer health insurance and wellness programs to ensure they are protecting their staffs’ physical health.
So many companies understand the importance of their employees’ physical well-being but don’t get why mental health in the workplace is just as important.
Almost ¼ of Americans suffer from a mental illness every year. This total adds up to over $105 billion a year in lost productivity (in the U.S. alone), according to the National Council of Behavioral Health.
If your company does not address mental health, your bottom-line will be affected.
Strategies for Managing Mental Health in the Workplace
Here are seven steps your business can do to support better mental health in the workplace.
1. Look at the Issue
The first step to promoting better mental health in the workplace is looking at the issues. Your company needs to acknowledge the problem, and then thoroughly examine it.
Determine what your firm’s legal requirements are, and what you believe it’s moral obligations should be. Assess how these issues can affect your employees and their performance. Your company needs to learn about the subject before it can teach employees about it.
2. Examine Your Culture
You need to understand your organization’s culture before implementing your process to manage mental health. Recognize what employees typically respond to, and how to best reach them.
Use your understanding of your company’s culture to shape your mental health program. This knowledge will give the program a greater chance of success.
3. Educate Employees
Educate employees on the ins and outs of mental health. Create an awareness program, host a speaker, and organize meetings. Many people, even those suffering from one, don’t quite understand what a mental illness is, and how it can affect them on the job.
Employee education helps to increase awareness of potential mental health issues affecting co-workers and even themselves. Education can also contribute to removing the stigma around mental illness.
This realization will encourage employees to speak openly about mental health, which further removes the stigma. By eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health/illness employees are more likely to seek treatment.
4. Train Managers
Leadership needs to be educated similarly to all other employees, but their education should go a step further. Managers need to be trained on how to:
— Recognize employees suffering from a mental illness
— Talk with staff about mental health
— Work with and accommodate employees suffering from a mental illness
Management needs to understand how much mental illness can affect both the individual and the business. They need to be trained to help their team members through potential mental health issues.
5. Encourage Treatment
Actively encourage your employees to seek and receive treatment for any mental illness. Provide them with information and support to get treated. Offer employees a free mental health screening.
A mental health screening can lead to early identification of mental illness. Early identification, in turn, helps to cut costs related to treatment, and costs resulting from a mental illness affecting an employee’s work.
Another treatment option is an Employee Assitance Program. These programs help employees seek treatment through a confidential, third-party administrator. EAPs give your employees safe and confidential options for mental health treatment.
6. Support Your Staff
Make sure every employee, throughout the organization, is working to help colleagues who suffer from a mental illness. Organizations can support employees with mental illnesses by:
— Altering their role
— Changing their environment = Offer flexible work options
— Monitoring and managing workloads = If employees are regularly working overtime, or taking work home, you may need to address resource or staffing issues
— Prevent bullying and discrimination = Foster an environment of respect, and create a formal and informal complaint handling process
7. Keep Track
Make sure that your business is consistently collecting and tracking data related to your mental health program. Begin collecting data immediately. Without a baseline of information, you won’t be able to accurately measure your results with the data you collect after you implement the program.
Collect relevant data such as:
— Employee health care costs
— Job satisfaction
— Employee Questionnaires and Surveys
Why Mental Health Programs Are Good for Business
Promoting treatment of mental health in the workplace makes your employees, and organization as a whole, more successful.
Mental illness is an enormous contributing factor towards employee absenteeism, and this issue is only growing. The World Health Organization estimates that, by 2030, the world will lose 12 billion workdays to depression and anxiety alone, if treatment does not improve.
According to Jennifer Schneider, Chief Medical Officer of Livongo Health, behavioral issues are responsible for 40 percent of missed work, yet 70 percent of those who suffer go untreated.
Treating more of your employees who suffer from a mental illness can help your company to decrease cases of absenteeism.
Recruit and Retain
A strong mental health program helps recruit top talent by demonstrating your organization really cares about its staff. An established program tells recruits that your company pays attention to its employee’s and values every aspect of their health.
Having a mental health program also improves your ability to retain current employees. An employee suffering from a mental illness is less likely to search for other employment if his/her current employer is helping to treat their illness.
Helping employees improve their mental health also works to foster goodwill towards the company. This goodwill, in turn, decreases the chances of employees being dissatisfied and looking for a new job.
Health Care Costs
Mental illness results in a substantial amount of health care costs for employers, every year. Here are three statistics that show the costs untreated mental illness can have on your organization:
— People with untreated mental illness use (non-psychiatric) inpatient and outpatient services three times more than those who are treated
— Individuals who are depressed but not receiving care for the condition consume two to four times the healthcare resources
— People with anxiety disorders see a doctor three to five times more often than those without anxiety disorders
Treating mental illness helps both employers and employees save money by reducing consumption of healthcare resources and services.
The healthier an employee is, the better their performance will be. A mental health program provides employees with the support they need to be their most productive.
In a survey by Employee Benefits News magazine, 31 percent of respondents cited mental illness as the number one cause of lost productivity and increased absenteeism.
According to Health and Productivity Management, mental illness was the number two reported health reason for lost productivity.
These statistics highlight the drain that mental illness can have on an employee, their productivity, and ultimately, the business.
Use these seven strategies to establish your mental health program. Improved mental health in the workplace leads to decreased absenteeism, improved recruitment and retention, lowered healthcare costs, and increased productivity.
All of this adds up to an enormous impact on your company’s success. Analysis by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that an average business experiences a return on investment of $2.30 for every $1 spent creating a mentally healthy work environment.
Contrary to Cypress Hills’s belief, you should only be insane in the brain, or membrane, when on the dance floor.