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Why Employee Mental Health Is Important

Nobody wants to admit to their boss that they are struggling with depression or any type of mental illness. Employees worry about getting fired or appearing weak and incapable. Sometimes the employee doesn’t even know they have a problem until they end up sabotaging their job. In this article we look at ways companies can make their employee's emotional health a more central role in their business.
Why Employee Mental Health is Important

Nobody wants to admit to their boss that they are struggling with depression or any type of mental illness. Employees worry about getting fired or appearing weak and incapable. Sometimes the employee doesn’t even know they have a problem until they end up sabotaging their job.

The worst part is roughly 85% of employees’ mental health conditions go undiagnosed or untreated. Considering we spend most of our waking hours at work, it’s vitally important to not only the employee to get healthy, but to the overall health of the company.

What can employers do to help promote employee well-being? Here are three tips for being proactive and creating a positive and safe work environment:

Make a Plan

If a boss notices work slipping, it’s time for them to step in. Problems can usually be dealt with as long as the parties are willing to work together to find a solution. Let’s say someone wakes up feeling anxiety in their chest. When this happens, one solution could be to work from home that day or come in later when they feel better.

At the same time, it’s important for the employee to verbalize what support they may need. Anxiety and depression still carry stigmas, but these are real and serious disorders with one in four adults afflicted. Symptoms should not be ignored.

Fortunately, there’s a growing demand for psychiatric nurse practitioners who are hired by companies to assess mental health needs of individuals. They diagnose and treat mental illnesses with a range of solutions, including prescription medications and psychotherapy.

Ideally, spotting a potential problem before it arises ensures that support can be offered if needed. Employers should have a system in place to monitor absenteeism, conflicts, and productivity levels, for example. Employers with a good understanding of group dynamics in the workplace can identify these issues.

Create Great Culture

An open dialogue between managers and employees about therapy is likely to increase the number of people who seek treatment. A supportive culture recognizes that everyone brings different life experiences to the table, and cultivates a diverse and engaged workforce will allow business to thrive.

Awesome companies also know how to keep things fun and fresh. I work for a marketing company that provides a breakfast buffet to all employees every Thursday morning. We also hold potlucks and costume contests for certain holidays, attend baseball games, are offered a free gym membership, and receive gift cards and prizes for good work, to name a few.

In an article about creating a happy company, Shark Tank’s Barbara Ann Corcoran writes, “Fun at work makes good business sense because happy people work harder, and a lot more work gets done. People are more productive and build better teams when they enjoy their jobs and each other’s company.”

Encourage Balance

When’s the last time a boss told you to take a vacation or you actually used your allotted vacation time? Again, employees who take a vacation are more productive. Americans are notorious for not using their allotted vacation time.

A study called Project: Time Off by the U.S. Travel Association found that employees who use all of their vacation time actually increase their chances of getting promoted and getting a raise by 6.5%, compared with people who leave 11 or more days of paid vacation unused.

Stress and competition are part of the work scene, but good management helps employees remember to take care of themselves by creating a work-life balance. We also can’t forget that employees actually have to enjoy their jobs to set them up for success.

Employers with a well-being policy have a plan in place to help employees unable to work due to stress and integrate them back into the workplace when appropriate.

About The Author
Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer and social media marketer with a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana. Her favorite topics to write about include mental and physical health, wellness, business and social issues. Her work has been featured on The Mighty, Elephant Journal and Sivana Spirit. You can find Melissa on Twitter, @madtris.
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