World Mental Health Day was on the 10th of October and The World Federation for Mental Health has laid emphasis on Mental Health in an Unequal World. There has been a rising fight to eliminate discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, or financial status and maintain equality and inclusion, and this time’s theme has been fittingly chosen to highlight these socio-economic issues.
Mental health is an important part of overall well-being, and it’s something that affects everyone. It’s not just a problem for people with mental illness; it can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or background.
Causes of mental illness in the workplace
Mental health issues aren’t necessarily visible or obvious on their own—the symptoms of a mental illness are often different from someone’s personality traits or lifestyle habits. However, they may have an impact on your ability to do your job effectively if you’re suffering from any sort of stress or mental disturbances at work.
Some of the common causes of employees struggling with mental health at work could be:
- job insecurity
- imbalance in work and home life
- toxic work environment
- unhealthy lifestyle choices
- fatigue in work
- lack of social support
- increased workload and pressure
- improper management within the organization
- neglected health conditions
Importance of mental health in the workplace
According to an American Psychological Association survey, nearly 30 percent of employees reported being diagnosed with some type of psychiatric disorder within the last few years. Surveys have shown that mental illness can cost large organizations a whopping $300 billion per year. The average cost for treating someone suffering from depression can go up to $10,000 annually. Each dollar invested in employee training programs that promote workplace wellness and mental health awareness among employees today can save employers a substantial amount of finances and work due to the impact of mental illnesses at the workplace.
Decreased productivity, underperformance in work, increased absenteeism at work, reduced engagement and interactions with coworkers leading to confusion within work, and an overall impact on the daily functioning are some of the adverse effects of poor mental health at workplace.
A recent survey found that one in four people will experience a mental health problem within an organization. The good news is that these problems can be managed and prevented by understanding the causes, signs, and symptoms of mental illness.
Mental health problems include:
- Depression or low moods due to loss of interest or pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
- Anxiety disorders (including panic attacks) when your thoughts are filled with worry about impending disaster or potential humiliation which make it difficult for you to function normally
- Substance use disorders such as alcohol abuse/dependence
What should employers do to address mental health in the workplace?
With the increased awareness of concerns related to mental health in the workplace, employers must normalize addressing the arising issues. Employers must ensure that their employees are not put at risk of harm or discrimination on the grounds of mental health.
Provide reasonable adjustments in relation to disability, even if it is as trivial as making sure that staff can communicate effectively with colleagues. Ensure fair selection criteria when hiring new employees. This will reduce the chances of having people who may be more prone to mental health problems being employed there.
2.Monitoring stress levels
Employers need to take steps such as monitoring workplace stress levels among staff members and providing training opportunities around managing stress levels within an organisation so they know what they should do if things go wrong. This can easily be done by paying close attention to changed behaviour in employees, absenteeism, dips in productivity, and number of employee grievances. Mental health training for HR professionals to handle such situations better can go a long way in the success of your organization. Regular meetings with employees and tools like employee satisfaction surveys can help easily identify the signs of mental health issues within the workplace. You can also find several mental health resources for HR professionals that can come in handy to tackle the barriers of mental health.
3.Creating a psychologically safe environment
Creating an environment where people feel comfortable taking risks is an important part in ensuring a safe workplace. This can be done by creating a supportive work culture, having a positive attitude, and fostering a sense of belonging.
Psychological safety impacts performance because it allows employees to have the courage and confidence needed for success at work. It enables employees to trust their colleagues and share ideas without the fear of criticism, take on challenges, and display a higher level of participation in the organization.
4.Communicating about well-being at work effectively
The first step in communicating well about well-being at work is to be open about your own mental health. Asking for help can be an important step towards better coping with stress and anxiety, but it can also be a source of fear and stigma if you are not ready to share these thoughts with people who are close to you.
It’s important to communicate openly about your experiences as individuals with mental health issues or concerns so that the team can support each other through them together. It can be hard just talking about how someone feels, but if everyone has a safe place where they feel comfortable expressing themselves then there will be more chance of finding solutions that work for both parties involved.
It is also important to not only recognize when someone else needs support but also the approach for help. Be watchful of what words might trigger negative emotions in another person. So say them out loud yourself and consider all the consequences of the words before talking to the individual struggling with mental health issues.
5.Early intervention and support mechanisms
The first step in dealing with mental health issues at work is to get the right help, early. There are many support mechanisms that can be used to improve employee well-being and reduce the risk of employee burnout. Employers should have a plan in place for dealing with any mental health issue that arises in their workplace, as well as having an action plan for dealing with crises like an employee’s suicide attempt or violent outbursts.
Employers should also provide training for all staff on how they can spot signs of depression or stress within colleagues—whether this means informal conversations between managers and employees, group discussions focused on emotional well-being and self-care practices—involving both personal development plans such as goal setting exercises.
If you are an employer, it is important to have a clear mental health policy in place. This will ensure that your workforce is healthy and happy at work, resulting in positive productivity gains. The most effective way of doing this is by encouraging employees to speak up about their mental health problems before they become big issues. You can also make sure that you have clear channels of communication with them so they feel comfortable sharing their concerns with someone who can help them get solutions quickly.