Does Your Workplace Focus Enough on Mental Health?
Mental Health isn’t a buzzword. It’s well being! People can become so “comfortable” in a stressful work environment, they don’t realize there are alternatives. Work and stress don’t need to be synonymous with each other. In fact, if your employees are stressed by their work, you have a big problem on your hands.
Why This is a Problem?
People who are stressed are not well. There’s plenty of science to show stress isn’t just in the head, it will affect your body as well. Stress can contribute to some of the leading chronic illnesses in Canada, like Heart Disease, Diabetes and obesity. Which not only is awful to go through, but ends up costing companies a lot more money in drug and treatment plans than it would for something more preventative like a wellness program.
Another obvious impact of poor mental health in the workplace is increased absenteeism. It’s estimated every week in Canada, half a million people call in sick due to mental illness.
Employees who are struggling with their mental health may also show presenteeism at work. Which is what it sounds like: a loss of productivity from employees at work who are focused on other things. Many of us have been there before.
Is there still a stigma?
A recent article from the Globe and Mail shows more workplaces are becoming more sensitive to mental health in their employees. Things are definitely moving in a positive direction, as mental health discussions in the workplace even a decade ago were few and far between.
However, the question still remains if there’s a similar amount of mental health support in workplaces when compared to things like medical benefits or drug plans. And if these programs are in place, are they treated seriously?
You wouldn’t give an employee a hard time if they took longer to recover from a broken leg than you. The same should be true if someone is struggling with mental health issues. If you have presentations for ergonomically typing on your keyboard, do you also have one about how mindfulness can help those who struggle with depression or anxiety?
It’s in an employers best interest to support employees in as many ways as possible. Mental Health has historically been ignored, so take a critical look at what sort of health culture you’re promoting at the office.
What assistance/programs do you have?
The quickest way to change the culture around wellness is to incorporate initiatives in the office. Here’s some of the simplest ways to bring an accepting culture of mental health to the workplace:
- Frequent presentations on the importance of managing mental health and tips to do so
- Starting discussions around mental health to normalize the discussions
- Take part in initiatives like Movember, Bell Let’s Talk, or #MayHealth that support mental health
Mental-Health Supporting Benefits
- Wellness Programs – a combination of perks like paid gym memberships and other preventative treatments to promote health and well-being.
- Health Care Spending Accounts – give employees more freedom to decide where their benefit dollars go. An employee can get any combination of approved treatments they need for mind and body health.
- Paid time off – vacation days, mental health days, and sick days can all be pooled into one no-questions-asked category so people don’t need to feel bad about taking time off if needed.
When employees have access to wellness initiatives, they not only see the health benefits but also are more likely to limit and feel responsible for their health care spending. In other words, employees who are cared for will pay their employer back.
When most employers were asked why they started implementing more mental health and wellness programs in their office, it was simply because they thought it was the right thing to do. Employees spend a large percentage of their time with you, so you do have the responsibility to take care of them in both body and mind!