One out of every five employees is likely to be dealing with a mental health issue. According to the National Institute for Mental Health in 2020, 21% of American adults are experiencing some kind of mental illness. A stunning statistic that mental health professionals commonly use to describe its gravity.
In TeamBonding’s latest podcast episode, we spoke to Ramona Wink, an expert on mental health in the workplace and the owner of Find Yourself Boxes, Mallory Gothelf.
Ramona confirms the importance of mental health in the workplace by saying, “I always ask people to think about their families. Think about their coworkers, think about their social circles. And one in five people will have a mental health issue at some time.”
We should all be aware of the signs of mental illness and know how to best support your employees when they’re going through a tough time. In this article, we will discuss some tips for supporting employee mental health in the workplace.
What is Mental Health in the Workplace & Why is it Important?
Technical and industry definitions may suggest that mental health in the workplace is mental health issues caused by factors relating to one’s job. With the help of our experts, we have come to find out that this definition does not sufficiently cover what mental health is in a post-COVID world.
With many more employees working from home, office mental health challenges are now home mental health challenges and vise-versa. Another factor is that in today’s day and age, we are always connected to technology and the amount we are actually working is a gray area.
In the podcast, Mallory explains that there’s a blurred line between professional life and personal life.
“Part of that is the work-from-home culture. The other part is the amount of technology we have where we’re always plugged in at every moment. It feels like it’s really hard to step away from the office, away from emails, away from these things, because they’re constantly in our face.”
The negative impacts of these new work trends are finally starting to emerge. Employers need to take the lead on identifying and solving office mental health challenges as early as possible. Doing so ensures the health and safety of the employee, team, and organization.
6 Signs of Office Mental Health Challenges
There are a variety of signs that someone may be struggling with poor mental health in the workplace:
- Decreased productivity or quality of work
- Increased absenteeism or presenteeism
- Withdrawing from social activities at work
- Changes in eating or sleeping habits
- Trouble concentrating or focusing
- Increased anxiety or stress
Mallory goes on to say that “it is important that we put real faces and real people to what mental health challenges actually look like.”
“If you don’t, you probably don’t realize your coworker could have depression, but they’re still out there living their life in a way that you would never guess that you would never notice.”
If you notice any of these signs in yourself or a coworker, the best thing you can do is reach out and offer support.
6 Ways to Support Employee Mental Health
Here are six impactful things employers can do to support employee mental health and create a more nurturing work atmosphere.
1. Resources and Information
Many employees are simply unaware that they may be facing an issue and are uninformed about how to handle it. Providing resources to help the employee can give them the tools to overcome their mental health challenges.
2. Open Communication
Creating a culture of open communication where employees feel comfortable talking about how they feel helps identify and alleviate mental health issues quickly.
Employees are likely to speak out earlier to HR, coworkers, and managers. Open communication involves the entire team helping the person and the organization.
3. Taking Breaks
With technology always being at our hip, sometimes taking a long break or well-timed small breaks is what we need.
Encouraging vacations, promoting work-life balance, and flexible work arrangements are great ways to help a struggling employee step back and disconnect for whatever amount of time the employee may need.
4. Reviewing Office Issues
People who work in Human Resources are also great investigators. If you see a pattern in the mental health issues of employees of the same department, you may be surprised at what you might find.
It is your job to be sure that your workplace is safe and free from discrimination, harassment, and other serious issues that impact mental health.
5. Get Help From Professionals
In the podcast, Ramona chimed in to offer a supporting tip as well. She recommends bringing in speakers to talk about mental health.
“I tell people all the time if a company is putting their money where their mouth is, and actually hiring somebody to come in and talk to their employees. When your entire organization is on the same page, everyone can act in each other’s best interest.”
6. Team Building Activities
Virtual and in-person programs like these can incorporate all of the points above allowing employees to openly communicate and operate as a team. As mentioned earlier, team building activities can also help you identify individuals who are struggling as well.
If you have an employee who is struggling with mental health, there are a few things that you can do to best support them. Offer flexible work arrangements, encourage them to take breaks, offer resources, and follow up with the employee to see how they are doing.
If you are interested in using team building as an effective and impactful tool to help your employees, check out our wellness programs. To learn more about mental health in the workplace listen to the entire podcast to hear more from Mallory and Ramona about employee mental health.