Mental health is a topic that’s being talked about increasingly and it’s important to recognize that it is a valid situation that employees may encounter at some point in their life. Between the challenges of finding work life balance, personal issues or trauma, stress at work, or any other number of concerns, we’ve seen an increase in mental health issues over the last few years.
Employers may wonder how to best handle this. Talking about mental health may not come easy and it can sometimes be hard to understand. Creating a culture of awareness about mental health in the workplace will help to start the discussion and establish a safe space for managers and employees to talk openly about it.
Here are a few pointers to help build awareness in the workplace.
1. Addressing Mental Health and Absenteeism
Issues related to mental health are driving up long-term disability claims. What might start as a small problem could grow into something much more serious if not dealt with, and this can ultimately lead to employee absenteeism.
This is seen frequently with workplace challenges related to COVID-19. More and more employees are now working remotely from home. This can create added stress for a variety of reasons. Whether it’s struggling with changes to one’s workflow or dealing with personal issues like childcare or isolation and loneliness, these stressors can weigh heavily on a person.
It is vital that employers recognize the potential of situations like this and how they can cause a rise in mental health issues. Checking in with employees regularly to see how they’re dealing with the stress of working from home can be a simple but effective way to start the dialogue.
2. Eliminating the Stigma
Despite an increase in mental health issues, there is still a stigma. This can impact an employee’s willingness to seek help. Talking about it is not always easy. It can be even more difficult to speak up if there is a perception that it’s not a “real” health issue or that a person is weak if they are unwell in this way.
Employers can and should combat that stigma – the reality is that issues related to mental health are very common and just as valid as any other kind of illness. Ensuring that employees feel safe and welcome to talk about mental health issues is extremely important.
A holistic approach to fighting the stigma is recommended. Training managers and supervisors on how to discuss mental health and look out for warning signs is a great start. Encouraging work-life balance, mental health days, and regular check-ins with employees to see how they are doing will also help. It’s essential to make sure that resources are easily available to both managers and employees.
3. Leveraging Resources from Your Provider
There are plenty of wonderful resources available to employers and employees in a benefits plan. Many are free of charge! We recommend that you contact your provider directly to find out exactly what they offer.
Employee Assistance Plans (EAP) are typically included in all employee benefit plans and employees are often unaware that this resource is even available to them. An EAP usually provides a number of different services. It can also address other concerns such as family or work challenges, financial or legal issues, and much more.
Providers are also finding new ways to help support employers with mental health in the workplace. From educational material to mental health benefits, there are always resources that can be used to encourage dialogue and remove the stigma around mental health.
We’re always up to date on what providers are offering in relation to mental health in the workplace. Get in touch with us if you’d like more information. Building awareness around mental health in the workplace will help remove the stigma and hopefully prevent larger issues from developing. It can also contribute to a healthy and positive workplace culture which is great for employee wellness, engagement and retention. Look out for a post on that topic next month!