Emmie Sahlan

Promoting Mental Health and Well-Being in Your Organization

More and more, organizations are coming to recognize the importance of tackling mental health and well-being issues in the workplace — not only because they care about employee wellness but also because they understand the costs associated with these issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that over half of all Americans will experience mental illness in their lifetimes, elevating their risk for conditions like diabetes and heart disease and impairing their ability to perform as reliable, productive workers. According to Inc., problems related to mental illness and substance abuse cost employers over $225 billion each year, with depression-related absenteeism and presenteeism representing productivity losses of more than $44 billion.

The good news is that taking small steps to promote mental health and well-being in your organization can truly pay off in the long run. Here are five ideas to consider.

Encourage Healthy Work-Life Balance

Burnout can be either a cause or an effect of poor mental health. To keep employees from feeling overwhelmed with stress, ensure that work is distributed appropriately and that employees have resources to improve their time-management skills.

In addition, encourage them to use their vacation time and have leaders set positive examples by leaving the office on time at the end of the day and refraining from emails over the weekend.

Offer Tools and Resources

Leverage technology by providing resources and tools to promote healthy minds and bodies via your company’s intranet.

Consider establishing an online chat or hotline program where employees experiencing mental health issues can communicate with and receive support from trained mental health professionals.

Educate Employees About Mental Health Awareness

Train your managers to pick up signs of mental health issues among staff members and respond appropriately. Organizational leaders should be able to suggest relevant resources that offer assistance and support to employees.

It may also be effective to offer free screening tools that identify risk factors and help employees link symptoms to solutions.

Maintain a Wellness Program

In many cases, mental health and physical health are linked. Offering incentives to employees who participate in onsite wellness programs like yoga or lunchtime walks can mean a step toward improving well-being.

Similarly, consider working with your health insurance provider to offer discounted fitness classes or memberships to local gyms.

Organize Social Activities

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Boosting morale and camaraderie can both improve employees’ mental health and make them more likely to seek help for problems they’ve been dealing with. Consider building team trust by organizing social activities like monthly birthday celebrations, company outings or potluck meals.

For employees to feel supported and valued, ongoing communication is key. To help determine which of your company’s existing or potential mental health and well-being initiatives have the most value — or to learn where improvements can be made — reach out to employees directly or through surveys.

Though the efforts described above do require some commitment of time and money, the results are well worth the work. When your employees come to work healthy and focused, your business can only thrive.

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