Scrabble game pieces which spell out "Mental Health"

Promoting Good Mental Health in the Workplace

by Yvonne Nellums, PHR, SHRM-CP, on May 30, 2018
With the observance of Mental Health Month in May, it is a good time to consider what your company is doing to help promote good mental health in the workplace. As we know, health isn’t just about our physical well-being but also about our mental well-being. When we talk about health, we have to see the whole person and make use of the tools and resources that benefit minds and bodies together.

For many of us, we will spend more waking hours in our workplace than at home. We will share more interactions and experiences with our coworkers than with family members. Because a large part of the day is spent at work, the workplace has an increased effect on our psychological well-being. Promoting good mental health can be one of the most important steps an employer can take to improve an organization. The way employees think, feel, and behave can impact all aspects of a business.

Mental Health in the Workplace is Affecting Your Bottom Line

Employers rely on productive and engaged employees to remain competitive and meet customer demands. Despite the many benefits of promoting good mental health, most employers do very little to prevent or address emotional issues. While companies can have the best intentions, if their employees are not equipped to respond to an emerging mental health crisis, the result can be costly to the individuals and the business. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), “one in five U.S. adults on average will experience mental illness in their lifetime.” Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and other mental health issues cost U.S. employers between $80 billion and $100 billion per year. Absenteeism, decreased productivity, and increased healthcare expenses are just a few of the ways mental health problems can affect the bottom line of a company.

Ways to Improve your Employee Morale

The Mental Health America organization conducted a Workplace Health Survey, which included more than 17,000 employees across 19 industries in the U.S. The survey’s results pointed to several options for improving employee morale and have a low cost with a high impact:

• Recognition and praise matters more than compensation
• Employees really want to feel valued in their work environment
• Flexible work arrangements
• Professional development
• A relaxed work environment
• Exercise classes

Work environments that provide positive feedback generate higher levels of employee engagement and promote quality performance. It is human nature to want to feel valued by those around us. Employers need to remember to take the time to praise a job well done and thank employees for their contribution.

When possible, offering flexible work schedules helps employees meet their needs for a good work/life balance. This flexibility can help reduce worry and stress.

Giving employees the opportunity for professional development allows them to develop new skills and diversify their work. Employees don’t want to reach a point where they feel stagnant or confined by their roles. Learning opportunities not only benefit the employee but also provide a better-developed employee for the organization.

In recent years, employers have seen the benefits of offering exercise classes in-house to promote physical and mental well-being. Employees report they feel great when they have the opportunity to work off the stresses of the day.

Promoting Good Mental Health in the Workplace

In a healthy workplace, management and staff actively contribute to the work environment by promoting and protecting the health, safety, and well-being of all employees. Amy Morin, a psychotherapist and author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, recommends three ways employers can promote good mental health in the workplace:

• Create a healthy environment - Expecting employees to work 70-hour weeks or take calls during a vacation are just a few of the things that can cause work-related stress and lead to psychological and physical problems. Providing employees with reasonable expectations will help them adjust mentally to what is expected.
• Know how to identify mental health risks – Many people suffer in silence instead of recognizing the symptoms and seeking treatment. Business leaders today have a wide variety of tools available to them to help review their organizations. Inviting a mental health professional to assess and educate the staff lets them know the organization supports their emotional wellness.
• Addressing mental health issues – Employees may be reluctant to seek treatment out of fear they might lose their jobs. It is important for employers to support employees in their attempts to seek help for their mental health issues.

According to David W. Ballard, head of the Center for Organizational Excellence, “Employers who understand the link between employee well-being and organizational performance are best positioned for success in the economic recovery.” Educating managers to know how to recognize and address employee mental health concerns demonstrates the organization’s support for employees in their time of need. It shows care for employees not only on a professional level, but also a personal level. Promoting good mental health in the workplace not only enriches individual lives but also helps to increase the business bottom line. Happy employees are productive employees!

Get in touch with us to find out more about how we can help the HR side of your business to operate more efficiently and effectively this year.
Yvonne Nellums, PHR, SHRM-CP

Certified as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and Society of Human Resources – Certified Professional (SHRM-CP), Yvonne serves as Director of Human Resources for LandrumHR. She has over 34 years of experience of comprehensive human resources management. She is responsible for a team of certified HR professionals who deliver human resources expertise and training to our client customers. Her experience in the field has been acquired through focus on labor and employee relations, employment law compliance, talent acquisition, and conflict resolution. Yvonne is a Past President of the Greater Pensacola Society for Human Resources Management, past Legislative Director on the HR Florida State Council of SHRM, and served in various leadership roles for SHRM.

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