The recent years have seen the gradual lessening of the stigma associated with mental health issues. More people are coming forward with their mental struggles, which is fortunate because the first step to recovery is admitting you have issues and want to seek help. In the workplace, employers are starting to recognize the effect of their employees’ mental health on their overall productivity.
People are usually reluctant to discuss their mental problems, especially at work. They are afraid of being stigmatized in their work environment. This is why employers need to create and maintain an environment that is supportive of mental well-being. This should encourage employees to be open about their struggles so that management can provide resources that can improve the psychological well-being of their workers.
Why Mental Health Matters in the Workplace
Corporate programs do work on employee well-being, but most focus solely on physical health. Although it’s great that offices are shelling out resources for prescription drugs and dental plans, the physical body is just half of the equation when it comes to overall health. Mental health is just as crucial to our well-being, especially since mental illness can have a profound impact on one’s physical health. This, in turn, will render an employee physically incapable of doing his work properly, therefore affecting their productivity.
How to Help Employees with Mental Health Issues
If you’re a business owner, it’s in your best interest to make sure your employees’ mental well-being is addressed. Here’s how you can help them:
Speak openly about mental health
Mental illness has long been a taboo in society, so the first step to beating the stigma is to stop treating it as one. You can share personal experiences, shows that you watched, or articles (for instance, treatment for bipolar disorder) that you have read that are related to the subject. It would help to do this openly and without a shred of shame to make employees feel it’s OK to talk about issues and that they are not alone in their struggles.
Engage all staff levels
Culture starts at the top, they say. It’s easier to encourage and engage employees if they see their executives and managers practice what they preach. Having the bosses speak about mental health and providing ways to help will make employees feel the management genuinely cares about their well-being.
Allow employees to take mental health days off
Maybe it’s time to get rid of the mandate requiring employees to cite a “legitimate” reason for not being able to go to work (usually physical conditions, such as the flu or migraine) and asking them to provide HR a doctor’s certificate to prove their incapacity. Sometimes, people need to take a few days off to clear their heads and relieve the stress they have on their personal and professional lives. Encourage your employees to take the day off if needed while making sure they can still send their deliverables on time.
Pay attention to their behavior
When an employee starts to behave weirdly or to have noticeable dips in their work performance, take the initiative to set them aside privately and ask if everything’s OK. They may not tell you outright that they are having problems, but it’s all right—you can’t force anybody to open up. The important thing here is to remind them you’re ready to listen and help.
Update your mental health resources
Good intentions are great, but you also need the right tools to address the problem. This is why your tools and resources should always be updated and relevant. Be sure that your resources will not harm or trigger your employees. So this entails doing frequent audits of your mental health resources and use only effective ones to help your employees.
Ensure anonymity and confidentiality
Even though mental health issues are discussed openly nowadays, there are still a lot of people who are not comfortable divulging their problems. This is especially true for people with trauma, addiction, or suicidal tendencies. Assure your employees that everything discussed will remain private and confidential.
Work on physical surroundings
A little goes a long way when it comes to making the workspace as comfortable and engaging as possible for employees. It could be as small as putting natural lighting and plants in the office, but it’s a step in the right direction.
If you don’t have a mental health program in place at the office, it’s high time that you look for one. Fortunately, resources are abundant when it comes to resources on topics such as stress, anxiety, depression, mindfulness, addiction, PTSD, and suicide.