With mental health continuing to deteriorate across the globe, it seems as though numerous different actions are being taken to try and reduce the ridiculously high number of employees who are suffering from stress. Around £2.4bn is used each year to try and replace staff who have left work due to poor mental health and 70 million workdays are lost each year due to mental health problems.
Although stress tends to be more common in those who work in the public sector, for example, teachers, emergency services and health care professionals, it is widely experienced across all sectors. One in five people take a day off and another quarter of workers have contemplated quitting their jobs due to stress, so finding evidence as to what employers are doing to support their workforce’s mental health and whether it is working still proves difficult. There are numerous different factors which contribute to mental health issues in the workplace, including lack of control, no challenges, low pay and heavy workloads. So, with these issues seemingly growing, is mental health in the workplace a concern for employers?
The Cost Of Ignoring Mental Health
For employers, ignoring the mental health of their employers can come with significant costs. It is reported that US companies are losing up to $225.5bn a year due to lower productivity levels, sick days and tardiness which is often associated with employees who suffer from depression, anxiety and substance abuse. But, despite mental health being so ingrained into the workplace morale, many employees who suffer aren’t comfortable with bringing up their issues with HR or a manager.
A recent study found that whilst 50% of employees had experienced mental health problems in their current job, only half then went on to talk about their issues with their employer. There is still a huge disconnect when it comes to people actively seeking treatment, with an estimated 350 million people globally being affected by depression, just one in 27 of these received minimally adequate care for their issues and condition. Employers should try to be aware of any mental health problem in their company, but it may be difficult to come up with a working solution. Some ideas that companies are using to try and tackle the issue include outdoor meetings, one-to-one wellness meetings and promoting healthy eating and exercise.
Creating A Working Culture Which Prioritizes Health
Because of the whole health movement, there are now more companies who are realizing that addressing the well-being of their employees means focusing on both their physical and mental health. As a result of this, some employers are now making improvements on the mental health of their employees being the main priority. Some companies have been known to create communal spaces for their employees to talk about any issues they are having, whilst others are providing free behavioural therapy for both employees and their families. Having these kinds of support and services available to employees is important to increase their access to mental health services.
Another way in which employers can actively improve the mental health of their employees is to encourage a healthy and positive work/life balance. Burnout is a real issue for employees, with 23% of full-time workers saying that they repeatedly feel burnt out at work. To reverse this, a healthy company culture should encourage employees to discuss work-induced stress and encourage any employees to take their personal vacation and sick time which they have earned when needed.
By communicating the services which are available to employees, both within and outside the usual formal healthcare benefits, employers are able to shift the way in which society views the relationship between the workplace and mental health. As well as specific healthcare services, actively changing your workplace culture in order to destigmatise mental health problems will have a significant impact when it comes to improving the mental health of your employees.
Natalie Wilson is a freelance writer for many different business publications. With a range of knowledge in the business sector, she is an avid researcher and writer in the field. Having worked with a number of different businesses, Natalie is now a freelance writer looking to specialize in the topic of working overseas and the need for tier 2 visa sponsors. You can connect with her on Twitter @NatWilson976.