In the last few decades, we’ve seen more and more employers taking an interest in their employees’ health. Companies host fun runs, sponsor office athletic teams, and offer healthier options in the cafeteria. But have you ever thought about how your company cares for your employees’ mental health?
Mental health can have an enormous impact on workplace performance, and vice versa. Read on to learn more about workplace mental health and how you can work to keep your employees happy and healthy.
What Does Mental Health Look Like?
Before we dive into the connection between mental health and the workplace, let’s talk some about what mental health is. Although mental health can be a tricky concept, in general, the term refers to a state of mental and emotional wellbeing.
It means someone is able to handle their everyday stress. They can handle their responsibilities, thrive at their full potential, and make a positive impact on their world.
Mental health is just as important as physical health, and it can be just as harmful as an injury or illness. It’s also important to note that mental health and mental illness are two separate concepts. You can find ways to be mentally healthy even with a mental illness, just as you can find ways to live a healthy life even with a chronic illness.
How Work Impacts Mental Health
Now that we know more about what mental health looks like, what sort of impact does our work have on our mental health? Not surprisingly, work is one of the biggest sources of that everyday stress we mentioned. Even in positive workplaces, there can be factors that can cause stress and hurt on our mental health.
While some stress in the workplace is normal, there are factors that can make a workplace bad for mental health. Bad health and safety policies can cause serious mental strain, as can poor management practices.
Job insecurity can be an enormous risk factor for mental health. An expectation of perfection in the workplace can also damage employee mental health.
How Mental Health Impacts Work
The work-mental health relationship is not a one-way street. As much as work impacts our mental health, our mental health impacts our work.
Employees who are mentally healthy are able to handle normal challenges and stresses that come with the job. They can contribute more to their teams and generate creative solutions to problems.
When an employee is fighting poor mental health, they may not be able to communicate as well with their coworkers and managers. Their productivity and job performance will drop, and they’ll make worse decisions in their daily work. They’ll become disengaged with their job, and their physical capability may even get worse.
Why Companies Should Make Mental Health a Priority
It makes sense that companies should make employee mental health a priority. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, employees who are mentally healthy perform better. They’re more productive, more creative, and more engaged with their jobs.
Even aside from the productivity factor, caring for mental health is an important part of ethical business management. Making sure your employees are mentally healthy can have an enormous positive impact on their lives, both at work and at home. Your employees will be more loyal to you, and you’ll gain a reputation as a wonderful place to work.
Evaluate Risk Factors
When you’re trying to improve employee mental health, the first thing you need to do is to evaluate your risk factors. Which policies and procedures could be causing mental strain for your employees? What’s impacting morale, and how can you address those problems to create a more positive work environment?
Start by talking to your employees about what has the biggest negative impact on their morale and how they would like to see that issue change.
Evaluate if you’re hitting any of the risk factors we mentioned earlier. This should include checking if management is unsupportive or communicates poorly. Review your health and safety policies to make sure you’re putting people before profit.
Make Mental Healthcare Accessible
Even if you eliminate every source of mental stress from your workplace, your employees may still struggle with mental health.
Problems at home don’t always stay there. Someone’s performance at work is going to suffer if they’re fighting mental health challenges outside of work. It’s important to make mental healthcare accessible for your employees so they can cope with any problems in their lives.
If you don’t already have one, set up an employee assistance program that provides free, confidential counselling to employees. Make sure your company benefits include access to therapists and treatment programs. And work with your management to remove any stigma associated with mental healthcare.
Learn More About Workplace Mental Health
Mental health is every bit as important as physical health and deserves just as much care from employers. Not only can the workplace have a big impact on mental health, but employees’ mental health will play a role in their job performance. Companies who want to make mental health a bigger priority need to take a hard look at the risk factors for poor workplace mental health and ensure that their employees can access mental healthcare services.
If you’d like to learn more about workplace mental health, check out the rest of our site at K2 Associates. We’re occupational health consultants who provide health services for employers who care. Request a call from us today and start optimising employee wellness and maximising health and safety.