The stigma that has once surrounded mental health issues is slowly beginning to lift. Fortunately, celebrities and online influencers continue to step out and speak up about their experiences with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health challenges.
But what of the people who are working at jobs that are not exposed to the media? What do they need to know about mental health at their workplace?
Let’s look at some important facts and statistics.
Mental Health Issues Significantly Affect Businesses
Mental health challenges and issues, as well as heightened stress, can lead to poor job performance and a drop in productivity, less engagement at work, and communication issues between employees and employers. They will inevitably impact a business’s bottom line.
As little as one night of poor sleep can significantly impact performance – and considering how mental health challenges affect sleep patterns, the downward spiral is easy to spot.
Employees Have Mental Health Rights
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, an employee cannot be fired or forced to stop working based on a mental health issue, and the employer must provide a reasonable accommodation for any mental health condition.
Some employers provide employee assistance programs, too. These are completely confidential and provide assistance to an employee without disclosing any information to the company.
Employees are also allowed up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to deal with a mental health crisis.
Mental Health Issues Are More Common Than You Think
Unless it’s happening to us, we are mostly unaware of how widely spread mental health issues are. Most people still don’t talk about their own challenges with their mental health.
But the fact of the matter is that one in five Americans will experience a mental health illness every year. This means that there is most likely at least one person in every office suffering from some kind of mental health challenge, be it mild or severe.
Mental Health Issues Are Most Often Treatable
Even when they seem incredibly frightening and isolating to the person affected by them, mental health issues are often treatable. In most cases, they can be solved with regular treatment – whether that be therapy, medication, or simply a specific daily practice someone exercises.
The sooner the person suffering from a mental illness seeks treatment, the greater their chances of solving the issue successfully.
What Can You Do to Promote Mental Health in the Workplace
The best way to battle mental health issues in the workplace is to advocate, speak up, and establish procedures for times of crisis. Here are some of the ways you can get involved and practices you can advocate for in your office:
- De-stigmatization – One of the most challenging issues we face in the realm of mental health and mental health advocacy is ignorance and stigmatization. Educating coworkers, managers, and employees about mental health (their own as well as other people’s) is the first step to take.
- A clear line of communication without repercussions – It’s vital to open a line of communication between employees and managers on the subject of mental health. An employee needs to be able to step forward and confide to their manager about their challenges and triggers. In exchange, solutions and processes need to be put in place to help them overcome these issues.
- Personal mental health practices – We can all do a lot to take care of our own mental health. Getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, getting enough exercise, and spending time outdoors will significantly help our mental state. Furthermore, it’s crucial for our mental health that we find the time for friends, family, and hobbies. Even when an employer is unable to provide mental health support, the things we do for ourselves can help significantly.
- Watching out for each other – When someone is suffering from a mental health disorder, they may not be able to see it clearly. Speaking up when you notice someone’s odd behavior or irritability and offering support can be the spark they need to help them start getting better.
Mental health in the workplace will take more spotlight as the workplace itself evolves and shifts. For the time being, it’s up to the employees to advocate for this cause. They have to fight for the processes and procedures that can protect them. Hopefully, these facts can help open up that conversation.
About the author: Sarah Kaminski is a freelance writer and social media marketer. She works with a number of small businesses to build their brands through more engaging marketing and content.