We are a nation dealing with some profound mental health issues. Fortunately, more organizations are making a concerted effort these days to understand how mental health issues affect people of all walks of life. We are even beginning to understand how such issues impact the workplace.
CDC data shows that more than 18% of all U.S. adults reported some level of mental illness in 2016. Moreover, more than 70% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress. Those symptoms include headaches and feelings of anxiousness.
The fact of the matter is that we are feeling a lot of stress these days. For some people, stress is not where it stops. They go on to develop a variety of mental disorders ranging from depression to anxiety. So, is there anything employers can do? Yes. Below are five ways to improve mental health in the workplace.
1. Improve the Culture
It might not surprise you to learn that more than 80% of U.S. workers report suffering from work-related stress. Some 35% say that their biggest source of stress at work is the boss. An alarming 80% say that workplace stress is mainly the result of ineffective company communication. Finally, some 63% of workers say they are ready to quit their jobs due to stress.
Company culture is a big problem for a lot of people. In many companies, the culture is highly demanding and fails to recognize that employees have lives outside of work. Company culture must be improved to acknowledge the humanity of employees if workplace stress is to be alleviated.
2. Encourage Reporting
Employees who feel as though they are having trouble at work might be afraid to report their troubles out of fear of either coworker retribution or losing their jobs. This seems easy to change simply by fostering an environment that actually encourages people to report what they are dealing with. There should never be a reason to worry that speaking up will result in negative consequences.
3. Promoting the Work-Life Balance
Sometimes it is not company culture that places so many demands on employees. Occasionally employees place such demands on themselves. Companies and managers should make a concerted effort to promote a healthy work-life balance. They can encourage employees to go home at the end of the day and leave their work at the office. They can also limit overtime.
4. Encourage Disconnecting from Work
Along the same lines as work-life balance is the idea of disconnecting from work at appropriate times. Unfortunately, the fact that we are always connected these days makes it exceedingly difficult for some people to disconnect from the job. Thus, they are always thinking about it and the stresses that come with it.
Companies can encourage their employees to disconnect during off-hours. They can encourage employees not to check their business e-mails or answer business texts. Employers should also not attempt to contact employees during their off hours unless absolutely critical. Let time off be exactly that.
5. Include Mental Health and Wellness Benefits
Finally, companies that already have a wellness program in place can include mental health in that program. That might mean adding mental health services to employee healthcare plans. It might mean hiring a mental health professional or contracting with a local provider to offer services.
Employers already know the benefits of encouraging wellness. It makes sense to include mental health in employee wellness programs. We are a nation that seems to be too stressed too often. If employers can help reduce that stress and the resulting mental illness, why not do so?