employee health

Mental Health in the Workplace

Meghan Hatalla

Benovate’s Expert Blogger

Meghan Hatalla

Benovate’s Expert Blogger

How to Create A Workplace That Supports Mental Health

Most of us have an image in our head when we hear the word disability. We tend to think of it as something visible, noticeable about a person. Which is why most people are surprised to hear that depression is actually the leading cause of disability.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 300 million globally suffer from depression in some form. And with depression can come anxiety and a host of other mental health disorders. It’s impossible to know the full impact this has on employee health and workplace wellbeing, but it surely goes beyond simply monetary. All in all, some estimates are as high as $1 trillion.

In general, work is good for mental health. It gives people a sense of purpose and accomplishment… as long as they’re in a good environment. Negative workplaces–harassment and bullying chief among the cited culprits–exacerbate mental health issues, unsurprisingly. With that knowledge, it’s equally unsurprising that, to support workplace wellness, it’s important to mitigate these factors.

Promoting and Protecting Employee Mental Health

Here are five things every healthy workplace needs:

1. Work-Life Balance

2. Health and Safety

3. Employee Growth and Development

4. Employee Recognition

5. Employee Involvement

There are infinite ways to address these different factors. From physical design, like natural light and color choices, to offering onsite fitness classes or gym reimbursements. There’s also employee recognition and incentive travel, creative and design thinking excursions, flexible work schedules, on-site education or training…we could go on all day.

empower your employees with

Workplace Wellness Programs: Targeting Risks

So what can your workplace do to aid employee mental health? Let’s start out by identifying some of the risk factors that are commonly associated with poor mental health at work. Take a look at the following list and reflect on your environment and work culture.

Risk factors for poor mental health:

  • Inadequate resources to do the job
  • Weak or nonexistent health and safety policies
  • Poor communication or management
  • Inflexible working hours
  • Unclear mission, tasks, or objectives
  • Limited control over one’s work
  • Low levels of support
  • Hostile social environment (harassment/bullying)

If any of these work-related risk factors are prevalent within your company, it may be time to update the employee wellness program or take interventions to help protect and promote mental health. These interventions can vary widely depending on many factors such as type of work and size of the company. In general, workplace wellness programs are targeted initiatives to address some issue with a stated goal. They should give employees solid knowledge, tools and resources to support their wellbeing. Areas of focus can (and should) vary; the stressors of modern life are plentiful, after all.

There are the obvious areas, like healthy eating and increasing daily activity. But thinking outside the box and addressing other causation factors, like the ones listed above, is important, too. Teaching employees about finances and budgeting, tidying and organization, and other issues that cause stress can help mental health as well.

Learn more in our new online course on mental health!

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