mental-health

Most employers these days realize that managing a team’s mental health is not only important to the well being of employees, but to the overall success of the business.

A healthy work environment that’s psychologically supportive boosts employee productivity and performance. It also cuts down on staff turnover and the number of sick days taken.

The opposite is true if mental health issues are ignored or dealt with ineffectively. An unhealthy work environment hurts the employee and the company’s profit margins.

Mental illness and substance abuse issues cost employers an estimated $79 billion-$105 billion annually in indirect costs, which is a big reason why mental health has to be part of the workplace conversation.

This is especially noteworthy because the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2020, depression will become the second most important cause of disability in the world.

Is your company set up to promote mental health by providing a good working culture designed to increase morale, teamwork, and communication?

It can be a challenge for both employers and employees to make the workplace happy and healthy.

Here are some useful tips:

Promote Physical Wellness

One idea is to partner with a local fitness club to conduct a monthly class at your place of business. Recently, I participated in a 30-minute yoga session with my colleagues at the marketing company we work for. The instructor brought yoga mats and taught the class outside. We all enjoyed it immensely.

It not only made us feel more relaxed and ready to take on the work day, it inspired some of us to start doing yoga once a week during break times.

Another thought is to offer free gym memberships to employees. In order to retain individual membership, employees need to visit a specified number of times per month. This is another perk offered at my company, and many take advantage of this opportunity.

More and more companies are realizing that working long days can lead to a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to mental health directly impacting physical health. In addition, food choices, sleep patterns, and exercise also affect your mental wellness.

Encourage Positive Employee-Supervisor Relations

How leaders interact with employees on a daily basis is more important than how often raises are given, according to Forbes. The more likable a boss is, the more effective they are as a leader.

If an employee has chronic anxiety and excessive fear, it probably means they don’t feel safe in the workplace. When an employee is not happy with the relationship they have with their immediate supervisor, productivity and performance will decline. On the other hand, if the relationship is positive, the organization as a whole thrives.

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Ways to foster good, meaningful interactions include allowing employees to be involved in certain decisions, treating them with respect, listening to their concerns, and not keeping them in the dark about company plans. All of these things will yield more trust in their leadership.

Identify Mental Health Risks

About one in four adults suffer a mental illness in any given year. That’s nearly a quarter of the U.S. workforce or 28 million workers ages 18-54. One of the most under treated and misunderstood mental illness in the workplace is depression.

It’s highly treatable, although 71 percent of workers with mental illness have never sought help from a medical or mental health specialist for their symptoms, which only further perpetuates the stigma.

A free and anonymous online screening tool can be found at Screening for Mental Health. If employers encourage people to access the site, immediate feedback about results are given, as well as information about community resources that can assess and treat mental health problems.

Another suggestion is to ask a local mental health professional to visit your office to provide free screenings. If there’s a mental health issue present, the employee can be referred for a complete assessment.

At the end of the day, every company has its own style and unique way of doing business, but if 63 percent of Americans say they are “disengaged” at work, it’s probably time to look at the importance of company culture.

In 1948, WHO was way ahead of its time when it said, “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

What are your thoughts about the relationship between a healthy mind and body in the workplace? Also, what does your employer do to encourage good mental hygiene?

How Do You Manage Your Team’s Mental Health?

If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Melissa Davidson
Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer and social media marketer with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. She has worked for several publications throughout the West and currently focuses on health, wellness and social issues. She and her dog, Romeo, can be found running and riding in the mountains on any given day throughout the year.
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