The ABCs of managing mental health in the workplace include asking how employees are feeling, allowing reasonable accommodations for people who may need them, and preventing the onset of a mental health condition. These are important steps to take in order to keep everyone in your workplace happy and healthy.
Preventing mental health conditions at work
In the United States, one in five adults experiences mental illness each year. This includes one in four women and one in five men. Mental health conditions affect the workplace, family, and community. A person with a mental illness will have less time to work, more difficulty retaining their job, and lower overall productivity.
Employers can create a workplace environment where employees feel safe and comfortable. They can also ensure that they have the resources needed to help a worker who is dealing with mental health issues. For example, an employee assistance program can recommend screenings for depression and other issues. An EAP can also assist with out-of-pocket costs.
It is important for employers to encourage workers to speak openly about their own experiences. Stigma prevents employees from seeking help and can keep people from getting better. To overcome this, employers can implement anti-stigma programs and foster a positive workplace culture.
Employees should advocate for programs that promote good mental health in the workplace. These programs may include workshops on mental health and stress management. Some organizations have implemented peer support groups to provide a social connection that reduces work-related stress.
Other methods of preventing mental health conditions at work include implementing effective anti-discrimination provisions. This is particularly relevant to BIPOC communities, which have been underprivileged when it comes to accessing mental health services. Discrimination is a strong predictor of poor health outcomes.
Organizations can also improve the workplace by removing job-related stresses and other potential causes of stress. This can be done by incorporating flexible working hours and offering workers time off for appointments. Also, managers should be transparent about their own health. Then, they can encourage their teams to follow suit.
Employers should consider creating employee resource groups to support employees with mental health issues. They can also use a mental health scorecard to determine who needs additional support. As well, they can provide training on how to manage stress and provide other resources to employees. There is no quick solution for anxious people and those with mental health problems but with the amalgamation of these gestures, they can surely get the help they need.
Workers can also participate in company-sponsored programs that teach them about managing stress and other issues related to their jobs. Providing mental health awareness programs is a great way to encourage employees to seek treatment and become more comfortable discussing these topics.
Creating a culturally diverse work environment is an effective way to ensure that the organization’s workforce is representative of its target market. Creating resources for employees and their families can also contribute to improving mental health in the workplace.
Managers should recognize and respond to the signs of a mental health issue, such as when a colleague struggles to perform his or her job. For example, if an employee is feeling stressed or anxious, the manager should be more welcoming and give him or her the space to talk. Even casual interactions with the employee can build trust and increase the chance of a worker seeking help.
Reasonable accommodations at work
A person with a mental disorder may need accommodations for managing their condition in the workplace. These accommodations can include things like modifying their work schedule, providing flexible workspace, and more. They can also help a person deal with their symptoms and perform better on the job.
The ADA lays out a few guidelines for making such accommodations. For instance, if a person needs to take more time to do a task, they can ask for additional breaks. Alternatively, they may be able to do the task at a later time. Similarly, if a person has trouble attending a social event at work, they can ask to be excused. Depending on the nature of the disability, it may be advisable to have them stay at home and attend a non-work-related social event.
Some people with a serious mental illness may need a more concrete way to communicate their situation to their supervisor. In some cases, this could involve a written plan. It should mention the medical condition and provide links to resources. This can be a good strategy to use if a worker is considering a mental health-related leave or demotion.
One of the ADA’s most sweeping provisions is the requirement to make accommodations for employees with mental impairments. Not all conditions qualify, however. Mental disorders include major depression, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. While not all are covered by the ADA, most are.
Another ADA requirement is to have a written accommodation plan on file for any employee with a mental health condition. If a worker is suffering from a mental health problem, it can be difficult for them to keep track of their symptoms, medication, and other pertinent details. Making accommodations in this manner can ensure that the person does not fall victim to a relapse.
Providing a few small accommodations for managing their mental health at work will help them recover. Employees with mental conditions are more likely to be triggered at work, and may need time off to get better. Using a support animal at work can help a person with anxiety, for example.
Having a written plan on file can also help in case an employee is having a relapse. By creating this plan, an employer can make it clear to both workers and supervisors that they are willing to support the health and safety of their workers, and can be counted on to offer reasonable accommodations.
The aforementioned list of accommodations may not be the most practical or practical for every workplace. Some people with a mental impairment might need to spend more time away from the office, for instance, while others may need to use a more sophisticated form of communication to do their job. However, there are plenty of accommodations that are not a big deal to the employer, and can improve productivity in the long run.
Asking employees how they are
Asking employees how they are managing their mental health can be an effective way to promote a healthy workplace culture. Although many employers make a good effort to support their employees, some managers may be hesitant to make a big deal about it. This is especially true if they are working with an employee who has a mental health condition. Nevertheless, if you do choose to have a discussion about this topic, consider these five tips to help you get started.
The simplest and most obvious solution is to provide a relaxation space. Providing a place where employees can unwind after a long day can be a great way to boost morale. Creating a culture where employees feel appreciated is also important. A dedicated space to unwind can prevent loneliness and social isolation, two common workplace problems.
Other possible solutions include letting employees take time off when they need it, offering a mental health resource center, and providing a reassuring assurance that they are not at risk. Alternatively, some companies offer health insurance, and other employers may provide a mental health benefits package. In addition, some workers will be more willing to share their struggles with colleagues if they feel they are being taken seriously.
Considering the fact that one in five people will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, and that depression and anxiety cost the global economy an estimated $1 trillion each year, it’s no surprise that mental health is a top-of-mind concern for employers. While it’s important to address the issue, it’s equally important to avoid crossing any personal boundaries. If you are unsure of the best ways to address this issue, talk with your HR team. They can help you find a solution that works for your organization.
Using a mental health self-assessment tool is another way to help employees evaluate their health. Many of these tools are free or subsidized, and can be a great way to find out about resources that can benefit your team. For example, a wellness program may recommend that your employees engage in a variety of physical activities and exercises to keep them healthy.
There is also no shortage of resources available to help you educate your employees about their mental health. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can assist with everything from screenings for depression to treatment options. Besides, EAPs can be a great way to offset your out-of-pocket expenses. You can even extend EAPs to your spouse and kids to reduce the stress of caring for them at home.
Of course, it’s not always easy to know where to start. Some of the best strategies include using a simple mental health scorecard to see how well your workplace is doing. It’s also a good idea to check in with your staff regularly to see how they are doing.