We get it: work has to get done. But it can get done more effectively if your team is healthy. Burn out at work is the leading cause of lost workdays. Often mental health at work is overlooked, but it's a crucial component of employee health as well as for your business as a whole. Promoting wellness across the board in your organization will improve your business' performance, save you money in the long run, and can help your team to increase their productivity while feeling good about the work they do.
How common are mental health challenges in the workplace?
Mental health challenges are a lot more common than many people realize. They can also be invisible, unlike physical illnesses. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), almost one in five people over age 18 in the U.S. reported having a mental illness during 2016. When it comes to symptoms of stress, over 70% of adults reported having a stress symptom during the prior year. This includes feeling anxious and overwhelmed or having a headache.
Do mental health and physical health influence each other?
Our minds aren't completely separate from our bodies, and many people with mental health disorders also report physical illness and co-occurring conditions. Some of the co-occurring conditions that can occur include:
• Respiratory illness, including asthma and COPD
• Joint disorders including arthritis
• Heart disease
The CDC also says that the cost of treating all of these co-occurring disorders is two to three times more than treating people who don't have combined physical and mental health challenges.
How does mental health affect businesses and employees?
Mental health can have serious negative effects on businesses and their employees. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) conducted a study that showed that employees with depression were 35% less productive. The APA estimated that the total loss to the economy was over $210 billion a year. This is a result of absenteeism, less productivity, and costs for medical treatment.
What are some signs of mental health problems at work?
In recent years, education and advocacy about mental health has been increasing. People still experience fear and stigma when talking about mental illness. It's natural for them to be reluctant to talk about problems they may be facing. Some of the warning signs that an employee could be experiencing mental health challenges include:
• Frequently calling out sick
• Managers with problems meeting goals for productivity
• A high rate of turnover
• Changes in attitude, dress, or appearance
• Workplace conflicts - especially over minor matters
How can you improve mental health awareness at your workplace?
First, work to remove the stigma surrounding mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Let people know that over 70% of people experience symptoms of anxiety and stress. There are a lot of other positive steps you can take to create a healthy workplace that reduces stress and supports good mental, physical, and emotional health. You can also offer incentives for employee fitness and wellness too, including giving time off to take advantage of wellness programs.
Some of the steps you can take to support good mental health include:
Link employees to a service like Cerebral. Cerebral provides online help for depression, including therapy and medication. Cerebral is a one plan solution for better mental health. It offers regular assessments, video or phone appointments, ongoing counseling sessions, and delivery of prescribed medications. Employees can use Cerebral during their lunch or other work breaks. If you have space, you can even create a private lounge or other space at your workplace so people can use the service on their phones with privacy.
Let employees know about fitness programs and coaching from platforms like Onekeelo. They can choose to work with an individual fitness coach that fits their lifestyle, fitness goals, and interests. Onekeelo also offers workout plans that they can download and use immediately. The plans fit all fitness levels, and include workouts, diets, and training.
Bring healthy snacks into the workplace and introduce your employees to healthy, tasty snacks from services like Naturebox. Naturebox offers snacks that are made with good ingredients that are good for you. Some of the products they feature include:
• Healthy dried fruits and nuts
• Keto friendly snacks
• Organic coffees and teas
• Healthy veggie based snacks
You can also take the "temperature" of your work team by using MoodConnect's Mood Analyzer and dashboard. MoodConnect also has a Club on Clubhouse that will help you with wellness workshops and discussions.
Why address mental health in your workplace?
According to McLean Hospital, "addressing employee mental health is cost-effective for the business and beneficial for the employee." Over 80% of people who with mental health challenges at work said they had improved productivity, performance, and job satisfaction after receiving treatment. Improving employee mental health helps to reduce medical costs and improve productivity. There's less absenteeism, and employees also report less conflict on the job.
Self-care is important too
Just as employees can suffer stress, depression, and anxiety at work, so too can owners and managers. Taking time out for self-care is essential. Although stress isn't considered a mental health condition by itself, it can lead to mental and physical illness over time. So, at the same time as you educate employees about mental health and wellness in the workplace, take time for yourself as well. Maintaining physical wellness is a crucial part of mental health. Working out or accessing a trainer through a program like Onekeelo can help you and your employees.
Try ordering healthy snack boxes from services like Naturebox. If your workplace has vending machines, consider stocking them with products like Naturebox. The counseling and therapy available through Cerebral can help to improve depression and other mental health challenges. You can also get a read on your own feelings using MoodConnect.
Mental health challenges at work don't just impact the employee and their individual well-being. They also affect everything in the workplace. A depressed or anxious employee can have a ripple effect throughout your organization. And the same is true for healthy employees who are improving their mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Up to 80% of employees who got mental health care improved their performance after getting the care they needed. Building mental health awareness at work is a great investment in everyone's wellness and well-being.
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