Given that most of us spend a good amount of our time at work, it should come as no surprise that our work environment plays a significant role in our mental health and overall well-being. Despite the role that office culture plays in employee health, companies rarely, if ever, mention mental health.
As mental health issues become more prevalent in in the workplace, employers should consider taking ownership, and learn how to best combat the stressors that are particular to their workforce.
A 2016 Work and Wellbeing survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that less than half of the 1,501 workers surveyed felt their organization supported employee well-being, and one in three reported being chronically stressed on the job.
Mental Health Problems Cost Employers
Less than one-third of Americans are happy with their work. Half of the workforce is “checked-out.” 18% are unhappy with their current position with some even sabotaging the success of their workplace. An unhappy or unhealthy work environment is bad for a business’ bottom line and bad for employees.
Employees with untreated mental illnesses cost employers billions of dollars each year. An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually due to productivity decline related to mental illness and substance abuse, according to the Center for Prevention and Health Services.
Stress is on the rise. More than half (54%) of employees are reporting high stress levels, up five points from last year. Further, 37% say their stress levels are higher than the previous year, according to the 2017 National Business Group on Health/Aon Hewitt Consumer Health Mindset Survey.
The good news? There are a number of ways employers can help combat stress, such as creating an emotional fitness strategy to reduce stigma and address stressful, top-of-mind issues.
If we recognized that all of us deal with our mental health every day – from personal health or family stressors, to work demands, to upsetting world events – we would understand the value in protecting it and promoting our personal resilience to deal with whatever life presents to us.
Who is your population? Evaluate your work environment to address issues that negatively impact employees’ emotional health and train leaders and managers to spot the subtle warning signs of a suffering employee.
Those in unhealthy work environments tend to gain more weight, have more healthcare appointments, and have higher rates of absenteeism. Stress from work can also impact their family life, mental health and even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.
Mental Health Awareness Month is an Opportunity
People aren’t considered either mentally healthy or mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum, and an organization’s culture can greatly impact where an employee falls on that continuum.
Nearly 1 in 5 people experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year, and many other people are at risk, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The vast majority of people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffer in silence.
Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time for employers to open up the conversation about mental health issues in the workplace. Implementing stress awareness, or corporate wellness program are just a few ways companies can promote positive mental well-being in your workplace.