Mental health issues in the workplace are common, yet many employers turn a blind eye. The culture of rigid professionalism in most organizations has created a barrier that has made it uncomfortable to discuss employees' mental health.
However, employers must first address mental health issues to improve employee engagement and productivity.
What Mental Health Problems Do Employees Face?
Mental health problems in the workplace may not be tangible, but they certainly exist according to numerous mental health issues in the workplace statistics.
Common mental health issues in the workplace include depression, stress, anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks. While it may seem like this is something employees have to deal with on their own, the problem is that mental health issues end up affecting your business.
Poor mental health will negatively impact employee performance and have a similar effect on other aspects of your business. Poor job performance and productivity are costly to your business. Similarly, having employees who are not fully engaged with their work affects your work culture.
The bottom line is you should do everything possible to address mental health issues because you're not immune from their effects. In addition, there are mental health issues caused by workplace factors, and it's your responsibility to make the necessary changes that result in a more positive outcome.
Ten Ways to Successfully Address Mental Health Issues In the Workplace
Here are the top 10 strategies employers can adopt when dealing with mental health issues in the workplace.
Normalize Discussions About Mental Health Challenges
Generally, there's a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues, which extends to workplaces. This discourages employees from being open and honest about their mental health struggles. Stigma can also deter many people from getting the help they need which perpetuates the negative impact mental health problems have on your business.
Therefore, it's up to you to take the bold step and bring discussions about mental health to the table. Keep persisting until employees feel comfortable about the topic. They should realize that being transparent about mental health struggles is no different from talking about physical health issues.
If you have also struggled with mental health issues at one point or another, sharing your experiences will help remove some of the stigma surrounding this topic.
Check-In Regularly With Employees
It's hard to pinpoint the signs of mental health issues in the workplace if there's a disconnect between you and your employees. That's why it's essential to check in with your employees regularly.
This makes it easier to know if there's something wrong with employees. When you check in with employees, make sure that your concern goes beyond casually asking employees if they are doing OK.
Instead, ask more specific questions to encourage employees to open up. At the same time, avoid forcing employees to talk or overstepping personal boundaries. The aim is to provide the right level of support by listening and making it safe for employees to discuss their concerns.
As a leader, it's essential to be compassionate and approachable. That way, you can get real insights about issues your team members are facing and how you can be there for them.
Invest In Mental Health Training
It's nearly impossible to remove the stigma about mental health issues without providing adequate mental health training. Investing in mental health training ensures that employees and management can work together to build a mentally healthy culture.
The best thing to do is hire a qualified mental health professional to help spread awareness of mental health issues in the workplace. Employees will learn about signs and symptoms, common myths, and methods for coping with mental health struggles.
This will go a long way towards encouraging open discussions about mental health. From there, employees can feel more confident taking the next step and seeking treatment. In addition, they'll have the resources and support they need to navigate mental health struggles.
Reduce Workplace Stressors
There are many mental health issues caused by workplace stressors. One of the most common factors behind stress at work is an excessive workload that pushes people to work harder and harder.
This is harmful to employee health because it upsets the work-life balance. If employees regularly work more than 40 hours a week, this quickly leads to burnout, negatively impacting the overall employee experience.
The other issue is that when employees are overworked, they rarely have time to address the mental health issues they may be facing. It's crucial to realize that your team often needs some time off to de-stress and focus on their mental health. To create a more stress-free workplace, other factors you need to consider include health and safety, growth and development, recognition and reward, and workplace negativity.
Review and Update Workplace Policies and Practices
Now is a good time more than ever to review and update workplace policies and practices to help address incidents related to mental health issues in the workplace.
For instance, increased stress levels can result in disruptive behavior, such as verbal conflicts and the destruction of company property. It's important to have a clear workplace policy to guide managers on what to do when employees exhibit specific disruptive behaviors.
The policy should describe how to respond and which measures to implement based on the seriousness of the incident. When updating your company's policies and practices, make sure they're flexible and as favorable as possible to employees. The goal is to support the mental health of your workforce to the best of your abilities.
Implement Employee Assistance Programs
EAPs are designed to assist employees by addressing any personal or work-related issues that may negatively impact their performance. As a result, these work-based intervention programs are one of the most effective tools employers should use to address a broad range of mental health issues.
Employees will have access to the mental health professional services they need at no extra cost. EAP programs can be in-house, in which case services are delivered face-to-face. Workers can also access services remotely via online chatting, phone calls, or other means.
Prioritize Other Wellness Programs
Besides offering employee assistance programs, it's also important to prioritize other wellness programs that support a mentally healthy culture. These programs work to promote positive emotions and experiences that boost employee performance. A good example is a physical health and wellness initiative that encourages employees to participate in regular fitness activities.
There's a strong link between physical health and mental health. As such, it's key to promote physical exercise and other healthy habits, such as getting adequate sleep and eating a balanced diet. Keep things interesting with fun ideas like charity runs and team-building exercises to promote participation.
Encourage Social Connections and Teamwork
Encouraging social connections and teamwork ensures employees don't have to face their mental health struggles alone. When someone is dealing with mental health issues, they can quickly feel overwhelmed, but support from their peers and colleagues can turn things around.
Employers can foster stronger workplace relationships by scheduling various social activities that allow team members to interact in a relaxed manner. This change of environment helps everyone to de-stress and enables team members to build a strong support network they can rely on during tough times.
Create an Inclusive Work Culture
An inclusive work culture is flexible enough to accommodate each employee's mental health needs. For instance, do your own research to uncover various stressors contributing to mental health problems. Then try to make adjustments that benefit employees across the board.
You should also ensure all team members are always in the loop regarding company changes and updates. If you're providing mental health resources, make sure they're available to everyone and raise awareness about the availability of these resources.
Continuously Address Mental Health Issues
Normalizing and supporting mental health at work is a continuous process. It takes time for employees to resolve and manage mental health struggles successfully. So, you should always be on the lookout for additional things you can do as a leader to address the mental health challenges your employees face.
Keep identifying stressors that contribute to mental health struggles and take preventative action. Discover new programs you can implement to enhance employees' overall health and well-being. Over time, these small steps will translate into a significant positive impact on your company and its people.
The Final Word On Supporting Employees' Mental Health
As you can see, there are many strategies you can employ to encourage positive mental health in the workplace. In a nutshell, you should promote discussions about mental health and provide adequate training to stifle stigma.
You can also support your employees' mental health through wellness programs, workload management, and well-defined policies and practices. In turn, investing in employee mental health improves productivity and positively impacts your organization.