Mental health is a key topic of concern for employers as we deal with COVID burnout, stressed employees, an unbalanced workforce causing extra work for current staff, and more. Now is a great time to have managers actively looking for ways to help employees avoid burnout and find ways to create a healthy workplace.
Poor mental health and stress can negatively affect employees:
- Job performance and productivity.
- Engagement with one’s work.
- Communication with coworkers.
- Physical capability and daily functioning.
Mental illnesses such as depression are associated with higher rates of disability and unemployment.
- Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.
- Only 57% of employees who report moderate depression and 40% of those who report severe depression receive treatment to control depression symptoms.
Even after taking other health risks—like smoking and obesity—into account, employees at high risk of depression had the highest health care costs during the three years after an initial health risk assessment.
Employers can PROMOTE awareness about the importance of mental health and stress management. Workplace health promotion programs have proven to be successful, especially when they combine mental and physical health interventions.
The workplace is an optimal setting to create a culture of health because:
- Communication structures are already in place.Programs and policies come from one central team.
- Social support networks are available.
- Employers can offer incentives to reinforce healthy behaviors.
- Employers can use data to track progress and measure the effects.
Action steps employers can take include:
- Make mental health self-assessment tools available to all employees.
- Offer free or subsidized clinical screenings for depression from a qualified mental health professional, followed by directed feedback and clinical referral when appropriate.
- Offer health insurance with no or low out-of-pocket costs for depression medications and mental health counseling.
- Provide free or subsidized lifestyle coaching, counseling, or self-management programs.
- Distribute materials, such as brochures, fliers, and videos, to all employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment.
- Host seminars or workshops that address depression and stress management techniques, like mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress and improve focus and motivation.
- Create and maintain dedicated, quiet spaces for relaxation activities.
- Provide managers with training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professionals.
- Give employees opportunities to participate in decisions about issues that affect job stress.
Many of these solutions can be handled through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) that allows employees to access resources for all areas of mental and personal health. TPM offers a great EAP program for members, to learn more, contact the TPM office at 509-535-4646.