According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half the people in the United States will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives. It’s therefore not surprising that mental health has a significant impact in the workplace. In fact, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions like depression and anxiety cost the global economy a trillion dollars per year in lost productivity.
Those who have never suffered from a mental illness often have a hard time understanding the depth of the problem or the inability of a person to “snap out of it.” But be assured – the struggle is real. For those living with mental illness, life at times can feel unbearable. Obstacles easily overcome one day can feel insurmountable the next. But those with mental illnesses almost always want to feel better and do better; this is where employers can play a role.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and there has never been a better time to help your employees with tools and resources to support them with any mental health issues they may be facing. Providing resources for employees to manage their disabilities empowers them to do their best work, creates a diverse and inclusive culture, and clearly, there is an impressive return on investment.
World Health Organization says that for every dollar put into treatment for common mental illnesses, there is a return of four dollars in improved health and productivity.
Some constructive tools that employers can provide to employees for support include:
An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) gives employees access to expert, confidential assistance for issues such as substance abuse, relationship troubles, financial problems, and mental health conditions. These services are offered through an outside provider that connects employees with the appropriate resources and professionals. If you already have an EAP, make sure all of your employees know how to take advantage of it.
Medical coverage that includes strong support for mental health coverage. With mental health included in your benefits plan, employees know they have a covered resource if and when they need it.
Physical health resources. Physical activity can bring both physical and mental health benefits including elevated mood and reduced stress. By providing an office gym or gym membership discounts, offering healthy snack options in break rooms, encouraging team walks at lunch, or other physical outlets for employees to utilize, you are demonstrating a commitment to health that could have wide-ranging, positive impacts in the workplace.
Offer PTO, mental health benefits, flexible schedules, and remote work if possible. By offering greater flexibility with scheduling you take that pressure off of employees should they need to take time off. With these benefits employees who may have financial or time restraints are free to get the help they may need confidentially.
Healthy habits are important for everyone to practice. Consider setting time aside during the week or month for employees to participate in activities like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness that develop and strengthen these healthy habits. If you aren’t familiar with these practices, solicit the help of your employees. One or more of them may know a lot about these activities and be able to assist you in setting up a workplace program.
Ultimately, it’s up to individuals to manage their mental health and get the care they need. Employers, however, can make it much easier and less stressful for their employees to attend to these matters by giving them the time, resources, and financial support to improve and sustain their mental health. That’s good for their employees, their organization, and society generally.
Contributions to this article are from Mineral HR.