Thankfully we are all talking about mental health more openly these days. And it’s a good thing, too, because we’ve all realized how poor our understanding of mental health is as a society.
Mental health illnesses are not uncommon. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness.
But it’s not just in our personal lives that we should be concerned about mental health. We spend the majority of our days, and our weeks, at the office. And unfortunately, work can get a bit stressful sometimes.
This means that supporting mental health in the workplace is no longer a perk but a necessity.
Why Mental Health in the Workplace Matters
Positive mental health in the office is essential because it allows employees to cope with challenges and setbacks in their lives at work and home. It helps employees manage stress and boosts resilience.
And while that is great for your employees, it’s excellent for your organization too!
Creating a positive mental health culture at work allows your teams to remain agile. Because your employees aren’t preoccupied with negative thoughts and emotions, they can perform better at work, think more creatively, and have higher productivity levels. In other words, your employees will flourish!
A culture of good mental health in the office also means that you are creating a safe space for employees at all levels to communicate openly without discrimination. Better mental health also means better empathizing with others, which is key to creating a positive workplace culture. This means you won’t risk losing out on valuable feedback that can help you retain top talent.
Work-Related Risk Factors that May Harm Mental Health
Poor mental health at work can lead to:
- Lower levels of engagement
- Decreased ability to regulate thoughts and emotions
- Lower rates of productivity
- Reduced physical capability and daily functioning
- Misaligned communication
- Poor decision-making
Some office-related things could negatively impact your employee’s mental health.
Inadequate Health and Safety Policies:
While these policies protect employees and visitors, they also protect employers. But if the policies are insufficient, they can reduce employee mental health, increase attrition rates and reduce profitability.
Bad Communication Practices:
Poor communication strains work relationships, leading to poor mental health and increased workplace stress. Keep communication kind, engaging, and clear!
Low Level of Support:
Managers are there to help move obstacles out of the way or share resources with employees to help them do their best work. But if they aren’t supporting their employees, it can add undue stress for workers.
Employees have a lot of expectations and pressure put on them. While anticipation is reasonable because it lets employees know what they need to accomplish, too much can lead to stress and emotional exhaustion. So leave the toxic workplace culture behind.
When an employee is worried about whether they will still have a job, they are too busy focusing on the fear of not being able to care for their families or pay the bills, leading them to be too distracted at the office and they won’t do their best work. This can lead to emotional exhaustion and additional stress.
How Employers can Create a Positive Mental Health Culture in the Workplace
Now that we’ve looked at the importance of mental health and the negative impact of poor mental health culture in the workplace let’s look at some ways to improve the mental health culture in your organization.
Create an Employee Assistance Program (EAP):
This is a work-based program that assists employees with personal or work-related problems that could be affecting their job performance and well-being. It should be provided at no cost to employees.
This dedicated quiet space can help employees take a midday break and destress. Equally important is promoting a culture where it is good to take breaks. Leaders and managers should set the tone.
Mental Health Self-Assessment Tool:
Providing a questionnaire can help employees assess their own mental health needs. Be sure to provide resources to improve their mental health, such as help centers or numbers to in-network therapists.
Health Insurance with Mental Health Benefits:
Speaking of in-network therapists or counselors, ensure to include mental health care in your insurance policy, such as health care coverage, prescription medications, and mental health counseling.
Hire for Culture:
Hiring people with the same values as your organization means you’ll have people who fit in better at the office and help your organization practice what you preach. For example, if you want leaders who don’t add undue pressure on their employees to perform, why would you like to hire someone who believes in high-pressure tactics? Hiring for culture can also improve your practices of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion)!
Check out our Culture Alignment Assessment to learn more about how to hire for culture the right way.