Mental health is an issue that impacts people globally across all age groups, genders, and races. 1 in 10 of the world’s population lives with a mental health disorder that negatively affects their personal and professional lives.
Moreover, the Covid pandemic has had a substantial impact on the mental health of a huge number of people and has forced many to reflect on what matters to them most.
Today, we are being very deliberate with our choices that are centered around meaningful and purposeful living, health management, mental health and stability, work-life balance, happiness, strong relationships, environmental betterment, and fulfillment on a larger scale.
Increasingly, people want to end the workplace stigma around mental health and are turning their focus to workplace culture and wellness programs in particular. Work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are front-of-mind for employees as they look to their employers for certainty about the future.
The psychological health of people at work
The scale of poor mental health within the workforce presents a huge challenge for employers. A 2021 survey by Mind of over 40,000 staff working across 114 organisations taking part in their Workplace Wellbeing Index revealed that the mental health of 41% of employees had worsened during the pandemic. Over 52% of employees said their work-life interfered with their home life during the pandemic, and 34% said the pandemic had made them more concerned about job security.
Naturally, employees’ attitudes and expectations have changed and many employees now desire to work for an organization that supports mental and physical well-being. They expect more support from their employer than before the pandemic wanting to see genuine action steps that surround the issue of wellbeing.
Most importantly, for future business success employers need to recognize the role they play in the health and wellness ecosystem in order to make positive change and support their employees with the right resources and mental health toolkits.
Investing in mental health and well-being
Providing psychological and practical support needs to be a priority for every employer. Having regular conversations and offering tailored mental health services can reduce absenteeism, presenteeism, and turnover. And those organizations who intervene can expect a return on well-being investment.
With the growing need to control stress, anxiety, and depression, more employers are designing strategies to help employees manage their mental health. Whether you are an employer with just ten, or hundreds of employees, here are four short but essential steps you can take as a base to create relevant help and support for better workplace mental wellbeing:
Adopt a proactive instead of reactive approach to mental health. Too often employers focus on offering support in a crisis situation however, it’s more cost-efficient to prevent the crisis from happening in the first place. Remember that prevention is better than a cure.
Put an emphasis on listening to, understanding, and responding to the challenges that your employees may be experiencing in order to help meet their personal needs and ensure better work performance. Make an effort to build trust and trusting relationships in the work environment by ongoing and authentic communication from the leadership.
Promote general awareness of mental health issues and offer free access to psychological (talking) therapy. Balancing the pressures of work with the needs of home and personal life can be at times stressful, leading to a greater need to speak to a mental health professional. Short-term, goal-oriented therapy such as CBT or Interpersonal therapy could benefit your employees and generate positive outcomes.
Be prepared to offer your employees the flexibility to choose where, when, and how they work. The hybrid working business model is gaining traction in the effort to create better support for employee mental health and it’s welcomed by an increasing number of people. People like the freedom to choose how they will work in the future.
if you want to prevent loss of talent and high staff turnover which can be very costly to your organization, it’s imperative to address mental health and wellbeing. Not just because it will reduce the overall cost impact, but because it’s the right thing for your employees, showing them that they are valued, respected, and are being offered genuine opportunities for growth.
Zana Busby is an experienced psychologist and author, having spent over 20 years studying and practising psychology and psychotherapy.