The World Health Organization estimates that mental health related disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in productivity every year. Mental health presenteeism, which is workers who attend work but are mentally unable to work, costs 3x as much as mental health absenteeism. Not only is there a direct impact on productivity and profits, but a negative effect on office culture and the health of your employees.
- Problem Solving
- Mood Stability
- Energy Levels
People with mental health issues are also significantly more likely to develop chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal issues or diabetes.
In sum: this is a real issue.
But, unfortunately, the stigma surrounding mental health has prevented a lot of people from thinking it is a real issue. Historically, people who struggle with mental health have been discriminated against instead of cared for.
Only 43.3% of adults who experience mental health issues seek treatment. Many people don’t receive the help they need because they feel shame about their struggles or they are concerned that they will be perceived negatively by others. In a workplace, they may worry that they won’t be taken seriously or be perceived as capable in the future.
It is essential that companies advocate for the mental health of their employees to assure both psychological and physical safety.
Allow employees opportunities to take mental breaks. Provide accommodations as necessary. Encourage them to take lunches, take PTO and set personal limits so they don’t burn out. Working employees to the bone only guarantees that they’ll spend their work time daydreaming about the day they quit. Teaching proper stress management will reduce mental health concerns and develop trust between the company and employee.
Have wellness initiatives
Bring in wellness experts to speak on mental health issues. Some people may not be informed that what they are experiencing can be helped. Have support available to the staff and provide wellness activities. Teach them about their mental health benefits that are a part of their insurance plans.
Create open dialogue
The stigma surrounding mental health prevents conversation. If there is no conversation around the issue, there is no resolving the issue. Let your employees know that you support them, that they don’t need to be fearful or ashamed and that their health is taken seriously. Be flexible and empathetic.
Learn to spot it
Someone who is experiencing mental health issues may look similar to someone who is under-performing as an employee. They may show up late to work, look disheveled, have low performance, have difficulty communicating or appear disorganized. Make sure to ask how they are before assuming anything. What may appear to be unwillingness to work may be depression or anxiety. Be curious, listen and offer help.
So, are mental health days a benefit you’ll be offering?
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This article was written by Kris Leigh Townsend.
Kris Leigh Townsend is a writer based in Los Angeles.