People & Leadership

How to address mental health issues in the workplace

To an employee with a mental health condition, balancing everyday work and life can be a struggle. While approximately 40 million Americans in the workforce deal with mental health issues, 56% of those do not receive treatment for their ailments, contributing to decreased productivity and ongoing health problems.

Treatment alleviates symptoms and improves job performance, but many people skip appointments or decide to forgo treatment altogether due to fear that the time required puts their job at risk.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that there are 200 million lost workdays each year due to depression, at a cost of $17 to $44 billion to employers.

Studies show that frustration at work will eventually take a toll on physical health as well. Those who identify as having negative feelings about their work life are more susceptible to chronic illnesses, weight gain, and bouts of depression.

As an employer, it is your job to create a healthy workplace environment to get the most out of your employees. A healthy workplace environment can improve mental and physical well-being. Here are some ways to get started:

  • Provide a quality health insurance plan with mental health care and educate your employees about their options.
  • Offer healthy living bonuses such as access to a company gym, subsidized gym membership, loaner bikes for lunch trips, or an incentive for a yearly physical or quitting smoking.
  • Establish a series of team building activities. For example, organize an afternoon sorting food at the local food bank or day at an animal shelter. It will help break up the redundancy of the work week while also providing a fun and helpful service to their community.
  • Encourage and promote an environment of honesty and transparency to make the employees feel valued.
  • Create a perception and culture where mental health is understood.
  • Create a setting that encourages positivity. Make sure the workplace is well lit, organized, not overcrowded, and keep up the appearance.

Ultimately, the goal is to make everyone’s lives easier, which can be difficult with mental health issues. As a business manager with a good game plan and a positive outlook, these issues can be overcome and managed. Luckily, no one is alone.

Are you experiencing depression or have suicidal thoughts? There is help out there for you. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK [8255]) is a United States-based suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.