Emphasizing Mental Health at Work

 In recent years, our understanding of mental health in the workplace has evolved, shedding light on the profound impact it has on productivity, engagement and overall well-being. Research has shown that mental health comorbidities such as anxiety, depression and sleep dysfunction are often linked to physical disorders — and can have a more profound impact on us as employees than physical health challenges like back injuries, hypertension or obesity. 

Part of the reason is that while physical ailments may affect one aspect of our work life, mental health challenges often permeate every facet of existence. They can negatively impact overall life satisfaction and consequently, our ability to perform optimally at work. An unhappy and mentally unwell workforce can lead to increased absenteeism, reduced productivity and higher turnover. 

The interplay between mental and physical health underscores the need for employers to adopt a comprehensive approach to addressing mental health comorbidities that not only fosters a healthier workforce, but also significantly enhances overall job performance and employee satisfaction. In their most recent Work in America survey, the American Psychological Association found that 92% of workers believed that it is very important to them to work for an organization that values their emotional and psychological well-being. 

When considering new employment or advocating for change in your current workplace, ask yourself and your potential employer the following: 

How has the company developed a supportive culture?

Cultivating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture is paramount for employees’ mental health. Look for employers who foster an open dialogue about mental health, reducing stigma and promoting work-life balance.

Does the company offer robust mental health benefits?

In addition to protecting our own health, it’s within an employer’s best interest to offer comprehensive mental health benefits. A report by the World Health Organization suggests that for every $1 invested in mental health treatment, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity. Inquire about mental health benefits like access to therapy, counseling and psychiatric services. 

How does the company talk about mental health resources?

Beyond benefits, employees should have easy access to mental health resources and be actively encouraged to utilize them through dedicated educational sessions. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are often underutilized but can serve as invaluable tools for individuals seeking support. 

Are workplace policies and practices clear?

Clear policies and practices regarding mental health create a foundation for a healthy work environment. Don’t be afraid to ask about workload management guidelines, flexible scheduling and remote work options to alleviate stress. 

What efforts are made to create a healthy working environment?

Physical surroundings impact mental health. Ergonomic workspaces, adequate lighting and recreational areas can contribute to a healthier work environment. Studies have shown that exposure to natural light and green spaces in the workplace can improve mood and overall well-being. 

Does company leadership support wellness measures?

Leadership plays a pivotal role in shaping the mental health landscape of an organization. Pay attention to see if leaders model healthy behavior, prioritize work-life balance and actively participate in mental health initiatives. 

#MentalHealth #MakeItMainstream

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issue, help is out there. Contact the Mental Health America 24/7 Crisis Text Line (Text MHA to 741-741).

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