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Employees are Suffering: It’s Time to Make Mental Health a Priority

Employees are Suffering: It’s Time to Make Mental Health a Priority
Posted on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 by Marcy Klipfel
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Your organization’s most important asset — your employees — are feeling disinterested, anxious, and depressed.

mental-health-benefits-at-workAccording to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in five people (43.8 million) suffer from a mental illness. And, 80 percent say that their illness causes them some difficulty with work. Simply put, mental health challenges are crippling your employees’ ability to perform at the top of their game.

Mental health can be a taboo topic in the workplace. But gone are the days that mental health is ignored and/or swept under the rug. Creating workplaces that weave mindfulness into the fabric of their culture and value open and honest conversations about mental health can help employees feel more comfortable and accepted. Feeling supported and valued is proven to improve overall employee well-being, productivity, and increase retention rates.

Lack of emotional diversity is crippling organizations

There is a giant hole when it comes to acknowledging emotional diversity in the workplace. Not all employees are wired the same. In fact, many people that struggle with mental illness are the highest performers. But their challenges are not being discussed in the open and many high performers end up quitting or are not able to reach their full potential. This failure to acknowledge mental health in the workplace is a mistake costing big money. Less than a third of people with mental health get treatment which can account for $17-$44 billion in lost productivity from untreated depression issues alone.

Not only that, employees who suffer from mental health issues make six times as many emergency room visits and submit two to four times as many medical claims.

There is a real opportunity for employers to fill the mental health void by providing education and access to helpful resources to their employees. By improving the mental health of employees, physical health improves as well.

Employees want their employers to help with mental health

According to a survey from Peldon Rose, nearly three-quarters of workers say they want their employers to champion mental health and well-being in the workplace. This is rated as more important than equality, sustainability, and diversity. And mental health is a priority across all generations. Seventy-six percent of Gen Z, 73 percent of Millennials, and 75 percent of Gen Xers place mental health and well-being above all other causes.

Be ahead of the curve

By providing mental health resources and services, you can put your organization ahead of the curve. In fact, by providing more comprehensive mental health offerings, employers can see a $4 return for every $1 invested. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Bots – talking to a counselor or therapist can be overwhelming, especially to those who are suffering from anxiety or depression. Some employers are offering chat bots that use artificial intelligence to coach users through their experiences
  2. Telemedicine – by providing digital tools that employees can access when and where they need, employers can help make the right healthcare connections fast.
  3. Leadership education – providing mental health training to managers to be able to reach out to employees suffering from mental health issues is key to any lasting program. There is still a significant stigma surrounding mental health, so the more managers and leaders can acknowledge and lend help to their employees the more likely it is for employees to come forward for help.

Mental health benefit offerings are on the rise, and they should be. But mental health issues in the workplace are deep seeded challenges that will take a village to change. But for practical tips on what you can do tomorrow, check out our e-book below.

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