5 Ways to Support Mental Health at Work

Globally, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression, one of the leading causes of disability, with many of these people also suffering from symptoms of anxiety.

A recent WHO-led study estimates that depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity. Unemployment is a well-recognized risk factor for mental health problems. A negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism, and lost productivity.

Here are five ways your company can support employee mental health:

1- Promote work-life balance

Without a healthy work/life balance, productivity is likely to decline, and employees are more likely to burn out. It's important to insist employees take regular vacations where they can unplug from the office.

Encourage everyone to develop a full life outside of the office. People who engage in hobbies, spend time with loved ones and take time to care for themselves make better employees.

2- Discuss mental health in the workplace

Talk about mental health issues related to stress, depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.

Educate senior management regarding common signs of mental health problems and train them to respond appropriately. A caring conversation between a supervisor and an employee could be instrumental in encouraging an individual to seek help.

3- Offer free screening tools

Most mental health disorders are left untreated because employees don't recognize the signs and symptoms.

Mental Health America offers free screening tools that can help employees anonymously assess their risk factors. Employees who recognize they're at risk for certain issues, like depression or anxiety, are more likely to seek treatment.

4- Talk about EAP benefits

Companies must offer an EAP benefit that allows employees to access a handful of therapy sessions for free.

Whether an employee is struggling with marital issues or insomnia, EAPs can help employees deal with the issues that detract from their performance.

5- Reduce the stigma

Normalize talking about self-care, stress management, and mental health concerns in meetings and in email communication to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

Kindness is the key. Employees are more likely to seek treatment when they trust you won’t call them “crazy” for having a panic attack or fire them when they’re struggling with depression.

While employees have the responsibility to take care of their well-being, the onus is on the organization to create a mentally healthy environment for them to do so. Companies that do this well, thrive in the long run.