MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE
Mental health disorders are among the most prevalent illnesses in the workplace. Work-related stress, anxiety, and depression make up a significant part of mental health concerns – in 2020/21, over 985,000 people experienced one of these conditions in this country alone.
High workloads, anxiety about your performance, and conflict with colleagues can all affect your mental health. However, the workplace can also be a space for tackling mental health issues and offering guidance and support to improve the well-being of staff.
WHAT CAUSES STRESS?
Stress can have many causes, both inside and outside the workplace. Our social and personal lives can contribute to stress – strained relationships and financial difficulties can make situations feel overwhelming.
Inside the workplace, the most common causes of stress and anxiety for employees are workload, conflicting management styles, and work-life balance.
There are six main sources of work-related stress:
- Demands from work – staff become overloaded if they feel they cannot cope with what they are being asked to do.
- Control over work – staff can feel disillusioned and unmotivated if they have no agency over their work.
- Support from managers and colleagues – mental health issues are often more prevalent if staff feel they are unable to ask for support.
- Relationships at work – work relationships that lack respect and trust can lead to problems with behaviour, grievances and bullying.
- Clarity of roles and responsibilities – staff often feel anxious about work if they are unsure of what others expect of them or their role in the organisation.
- Change – when managers do not communicate change effectively, it can create stress and uncertainty.
HOW CAN WORKPLACES MANAGE MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES?
While work-related stress, anxiety and depression are serious problems, there are steps that employers can take to make the workplace a comfortable and supportive environment. Low-stress environments improve the well-being of employees and provide the space for people to grow and reach their full potential.
A fundamental part of healthy workplace practice is the presence of effective support systems. Employees should feel comfortable communicating concerns to colleagues and managers. Employers, in turn, should actively look for signs that an employee is struggling with stress or anxiety so they can offer appropriate support. These signs may include:
- Taking extra time off work
- Overreacting to requests or what others say
- Expressing negative feelings about situations and expectations
- Changes in behaviour like restlessness or difficulty concentrating
Managers should be trained to support those affected by work-related mental health issues. Promoting an open door policy helps to identify and address issues early to prevent stresses from developing further.
WHAT IS THE EASIEST WAY TO IMPLEMENT A MENTAL HEALTH POLICY?
According to Forbes Magazine, the easiet (and cheapest) way to implement a World Class mental health policy is to engage an external provider. The average cost of a comprehensive internal company mental health policy including training Mental Health First Aiders, developing procedures and deveoping an escalation process including retaining therapists is over $605,000 per year for businesses of between 50 – 250 employees.
Implementing Remedy Wellbeing Workplace Mental Health solutions is $8,000 per month (over 100x) less than an internal process with none of the headaches.
The Workplace Remedy includes:
- Mental Health First Aid Crisis Coaches available for all staff via a dedicated number
- Outsourced Mental Health triage, with qualified therapists on standby for escalated incidents
- Issues concerning immediate harm to self or others are escaleted to your own response team
- Concerns regarding the workplace (bullying, sexual harrassment, racism etc.) are escalated discreetly to your designated HR team members
- Mental wellbeing issues unrelated to the workplace are handled in confidence
- Qualified and licensed therapists are available for all escalated incidents
- A ‘ready to go’ Mental Health Policy with written procedures & advice on implementation
- Flexible contracts
- Same day set up and onboarding available
HOW CAN WORKPLACES PROMOTE HEALTHY WORK CULTURE?
Workplaces are perfectly placed to promote awareness about the importance of mental health and stress management. They have pre-existing communication structures, connections to social support networks and spaces to hold talks and activities. Workplaces can use these resources to foster healthy work cultures that minimise stress and promote productivity and overall well-being.
Workplaces can take several steps to improve their work culture, including:
- Offering mental health self-assessment tools to all employees
- Providing free counselling and self-management programmes
- Distributing brochures, flyers, and online materials to employees with information about mental health and treatment options
- Creating quiet relaxation spaces within the office building
- Holding workshops on stress management techniques
- Allowing employees to have a say in decisions about issues and topics that are a source of stress
MENTAL HEALTH AND ADDICTION
Work-related mental health conditions and burnout can be a driving factor behind substance misuse. Staff may use drugs or alcohol (either in or outsdie of the workplace) as an escape from feelings of stress and worry, or to try and forget the events of the day. Some social cultures normalise this behaviour and make substance misuse seem like an easy and effective way to cope with work pressures.
Substance misuse can cause or exacerbate pre-existing mental health issues in the long term. Heavy drinking or repeated use of drugs like benzos, cocaine, and opioids can lead to further stress, anxiety, and depression rather then releiving the symptoms. The World Health Orgaisation estimates that substance missuse in the workplace costs businesses worldwide over $1 trillion a year.
Closer to home however, the effect on productivity and descion making processes of throughout an organisation or substance misuse issues can be profound.
Remedy Wellbeing Workplace Mental Health has a dedicated and 100% confidential substance misuse program called 12 weeks of change. These individual programs are designed to make an immediate impact and avert a crisis without taking the employee out of work to a residential facility.
The majority of people struggling with addiction also have an underlying mental health condition (co-occurring disorder). Effective recovery programmes treat co-occurring disorders and addiction simultaneously to prevent one from sustaining the other. Recovering from addiction can help employees overcome feelings of stress and anxiety so they can reach their highest potential and thrive in the workplace.
WE ARE HERE TO HELP
You are not alone. Reach out to us today if you would like to find out more about Remedy Wellbeing Outsourced Mental Health
Legislation is changing across the World and companies must provide not only a physical duty of care to their employees but a mental one as well. Businesses of all sizes need a Mental Health Policy to stay on the right side of the law. Offshoot benefits of an outstanding Mental Health Policy include reduced absenteeism, improved retention, avoidance of serious HR liabilities and a massive uptick in productivity.