Before the pandemic, employees often faced a high-stress work environment in many competitive industries. As a result, work stress was considered a part of the job, and it was rarely acknowledged as a problem that needed fixing. However, the worldwide pandemic shed light on the importance of employees’ mental health wellness and its impact on work. Today HR and mental health have become an important topic of discussion.
In May 2021, the term ‘Great Resignation’ was coined to describe an unprecedented number of American workers resigning from their jobs. The number one reason they cited was poor treatment by employers during the pandemic. Is this the beginning of mental health support being considered a right of an employee?
Are Employees’ Mental Health and Wellness a Priority for Your Company?
The World Health Organization has acknowledged that there has been a significant increase in mental illness over the past decade, with the most common diagnosis being depression. Mental health support in the workplace is constantly being discussed, but do companies address this?
It can be challenging for employees to maintain their mental health when they do not get the proper attention/care they need. As a result, many companies are now taking mental health seriously. By doing so, they are helping their employees maintain a better mind space, and, in turn, greater productivity. HR and mental health are no longer mutually exclusive.
“Research has shown that leaders, in particular, have a special role in reducing employee anxiety during major crises. For example, many of the studies done around crisis communication after 9/11 showed that many employees felt it was hugely important to hear the voice of the leader, whether live or through email, phone messages, or social media.”
- Andy Brown, Chief Executive Officer at ENGAGE
For a successful mental health wellness program, your organization must be on board with the process. This will require some preparation and training of leaders and managers. You should also clearly understand what you want to achieve as an organization and what steps you can take. A mental health HR policy may be just what you need to positively impact other areas of your work culture.
Common Myths About Hiring New Employees With Depression or Anxiety
Depression and anxiety are severe health issues that affect a person's daily life. In most cases, they are classified as mental illnesses. The uncertainty and anxiety the pandemic caused have only exacerbated them further.
Here are some common misconceptions about hiring employees with depression or anxiety. This will give you more informed access to their decision-making process when interviewing candidates with these mental issues.
Employees suffering from depression or anxiety are unable to work in high-stress situations.
Although some studies indicate that employees with depression or anxiety are less productive, it is more likely that they are just not getting the needed support to do their best. Studies show that when employees with depression or anxiety receive support and engage in activities that provide them with happiness, they can be more productive than their counterparts.
Employees with depression or anxiety cannot work in stressful environments.
While it's true that depression and anxiety do have some associations with stress, there are many ways to overcome them and still maintain a successful career. Nearly half of adults with mental illness symptoms report taking on new work responsibilities since they started experiencing them.
Employees with depression and anxiety are unstable.
It is a common misconception that those with mental illnesses are unstable. Recent studies show that those with depression or anxiety are more likely to be victimized at work than to act out violently.
Employees with depression and anxiety can't do their jobs.
Employees with depression and anxiety may have a more challenging time getting started on tasks, focusing on tasks, and feeling motivated about work. But, if their workload is adjusted to be more manageable, they may do their jobs well.
People with depression or anxiety are not good employees.
Depression and anxiety can cause problems at work, but so can many other personality traits. Employers should look for signs of productivity and consider working with the candidate to create a solution.
Many employers think that there would be an increased risk in hiring someone with depression or anxiety. It's important to understand that there are many misconceptions about mental illness, and it is often difficult for those suffering to seek help. Employers must be aware of the risks of untreated depression and anxiety and the benefits of treatment. Mental health awareness can help you develop a program that identifies, supports, and even treats mental health concerns well ahead of time.
Developing a Comprehensive Employee Well-being Program For Your Organization
The benefits of a comprehensive employee well-being
program are numerous. It increases productivity, reduces absenteeism due to sickness, and improves the work environment. But more importantly, it helps employees feel valued and respected. It also makes employees feel that their employer cares about them personally, which improves morale.
Organizations need to understand why they want this program in place. Is it because the organization seeks to provide better insurance benefits? Is it because management can see that there is a problem with absenteeism? Or is it because employees are looking for a sense of meaning in their work life?
Mental health awareness is crucial, but it's not enough for your organization to only focus on the symptoms. Instead, the goal should be to work towards prevention, which can be achieved through mental health training.
It can range from getting your employees to understand mental health to making them feel like they're not alone in their mental health journey. Employers should not wait for employees to come to them to ask for help. Instead, they need to invest in mental health awareness and workforce wellness programs that provide education, resources, and tools that help their employees when they need it most.
How HR Can Improve Employee Mental Health and Well-being with 5 Tactics
There are many benefits to conserving the health and well-being of employees. It can result in higher morale, more productivity, and better decision-making.
HR must ensure that employees have health and well-being. They can do this by implementing these tactics:
Creating a space for a wellness committee to meet with the company's HR department.
Enlisting the help of professionals like psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed therapists to assess the company's workplace culture and provide recommendations for improvements.
Hosting workshops or training sessions on mental health for employees.
Allowing employees to bring their pets to work
Incorporating Mental Health First Aid is another excellent way to update your mental health program. It is a series that teaches a variety of skills, including:
- Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness and substance use disorders
- Learning how to assess someone's level of risk for suicide
Conclusion: How Can You Help Employees Get Back on Track?
In-house HRs have a unique opportunity to bring in a particular atmosphere that drives towards an employees’ mental health wellness. There are many ways to do this: setting up a fitness center, arranging a monthly mental health day for everyone in the office, or hosting regular stress-relief events.
HR professionals should not underestimate the importance of their role in helping their employees achieve and maintain a healthy mind and body. With an increasing number of employees reporting a decrease in mental health, companies must have a mental health benefits program. In addition, a mental health HR policy must have a holistic view of the company and its employees’ needs to create a company culture that promotes good mental health.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most common mental health issues in the workplace?
The most common mental health issues in the workplace are anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
How can employers help with mental health issues in the workplace?
Employers can help by providing mental health support in the workplace, including talking to each other about mental health issues. They can also provide mental health awareness training to employees and managers.
How can we change the culture in the workplace to be more mentally healthy?
We can change the culture in the workplace by reducing the stigma around mental health and making it more acceptable to ask for help. We can also provide workplace programs that teach employees self-care skills and recognize signs of stress or burnout.