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Mental health can be defined as how a person feels, thinks, acts, as well as their emotional and social well-being. Mental health can change over time, depending on factors such as workload, stress, and work-life balance. And while mental health includes mental illness and substance abuse, the two are not interchangeable.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness, and less than 50% of those with a mental illness receive treatment. A study from the Mental Health in the Workplace Summit also found that mental illness is the leading cause of disability for U.S. adults aged 15 to 44 and that more workdays are lost to mental health-related absences than any other injury or illness.
Think about that for a minute: More lost workdays are related to mental health than any other injury or illness. That means mental health is affecting your health insurance rates, your rate of absenteeism, disability benefits… and a whole lot more. That’s why public sector employers are trying to create a work culture that is supportive of its employees’ mental health. Here are three ways you can support employees and their mental health:
Promote Mental Health Awareness
The first step to creating a workplace that is supportive of employees’ mental health is promoting awareness and destigmatizing mental health/illness. Talking openly about these concepts can make employees more likely to reach out if they need help.
- Offer resources to help employees learn about mental health/illness
- Promote your Employee Assistant Program (EAP) if you have one. What phone number can they call? What confidential services and tools are available to them?
- Provide training on problem solving, conflict resolution, and effective communication
Talk about Workplace Stress
Work overload, conflicts with co-workers, long hours, job security, etc. our jobs can produce burnout. Burnout is a physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress, and it’s becoming more and more common.
Chronic workplace stress can contribute to increased fatigue, health problems, and irritability. Workplace stress costs U.S. employer approximately $300 billion in lost productivity annually. And although you can’t eliminate all workplace stress, there are ways to help them learn how to effectively manage it.
Consider implementing activities which would help reduce stress, which can improve health, morale, and productivity.
- Make sure workloads are appropriate
- Recognize and celebrate employees’ successes and milestones
- Have administrators meet regularly with employees to facilitate communication
- Address negative and illegal actions in the workplace immediately
Review Your Benefit Offerings
Do your current benefit offerings support an employee’s mental well-being? Are mental health services covered?
Some employers are adding voluntary benefits or services which supports employees’ mental well-being including:
- Financial planning assistance - Financial stress can contribute to poor mental health
- Employee discounts programs - Where employee can receive a gym membership, massages, or acupuncture at a lower cost
- Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – An EAP can provide employees with confidential help for a wide variety of needs and concerns including depression, addiction, financial or legal concerns, stress management, family conflict, and more
For more information, download the bulletin.
National Insurance Services is not a law firm and no opinion, suggestion, or recommendation of the firm or its employees shall constitute legal advice. Readers are advised to consult with their own attorney for a determination of their legal rights, responsibilities and liabilities, including the interpretation of any statute or regulation, or its application to the readers’ business activities.