Nov 11, 2021

Mental Health in the Workplace: Recognizing, Validating, and Prioritizing Your Employees’ Needs

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    It’s never been more important to better your workplace environment by supporting the mental health of your employees.


    New research from The Hartford reports 70% of employers in the US recognize employee mental health as a significant workplace issue, an increase of 11% from last year.

    Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses experienced an upend in workplace culture. In this societal shift and disturbance of routine, the conversation around mental health in the workplace has been brought to the forefront. The well-being of employees is becoming widely recognized and validated by employers as new societal norms are being developed. Removing stigmas around mental health and necessary treatment are essential as we move forward.

    “Our new data on stigma is a wake-up call,” says The Hartford’s Chairman and CEO Christopher Swift. “As the U.S. economy is re-built, we urge business leaders to continue to prioritize employee mental health – fostering stigma-free company cultures, increasing access to resources, and encouraging early treatment.”


    Untreated Mental Health Issues in Your Workforce Can Affect the Entire Business

    The data in The Hartford’s study explores the unplanned and expensive absences and prolonged disability leaves that untreated mental health and substance use disorders can lead to. Mental health conditions rank among the top five reasons workers in the US may file a disability leave claim. Furthermore, an individual diagnosed with a mental health condition such as anxiety or depression can take two to three times longer to recover than someone with similar injuries or illness and no additional mental health condition.

    Extended medical leave can cause economic disruptions in the line of business where employees are out of work for longer and need temporary or permanent replacements in their roles. Employees struggling with an untreated mental illness report greater difficulty completing day-to-day tasks and are less likely to be retained over a longer period of time.

    Slowed output and production are the last things your business needs during a time of global economic recovery and a hard market in the recruiting and hiring sector. It is in the company’s best interest to care for and retain current employees, bettering both the office culture and business as a whole.

    More than ever, there is an urgent need for education and communication about mental illness and addiction in the workplace.

    “We are acutely aware that the need for mental health services is only increasing and reducing stigma in the workplace is paramount to improving the lives of employees,” Daniel H. Gillison Jr., CEO of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports. “Mental health support in the workplace is a win-win for both workers and businesses.”


    Use Frequent, Supportive Communication to Encourage Treatment and Reduce Stigmas

    To help reduce stigmas and show support in your workplace, regularly communicate benefits and programs that support overall well-being to your staff. When employees are made aware of how and where to get help, they can more easily access the benefits and resources when the need arises.

    There are simple ways you can soften the conversation and reduce the stigma on mental health in your workplace.

    • Use respectful and sensitive language to talk about mental illness and addiction, avoiding harmful words that may perpetuate stigma
    • Communicate helpful hotlines or provide information regarding available resources for employees
    • Provide mental health training to managers and senior leaders that include information about mental illnesses, potential warning signs, and stigmatizing language guidelines
    • Offer an Employee Assistance Program encouraging sleep management, mindfulness, or other ways to help improve mental and physical health


    A Healthy Workforce is a Healthy Business

    By opening communication and offering resources on mental health and wellness, you can better your workplace productivity, retain quality employees longer, and reduce costs of absences and prolonged disability among employees.

    Keep your company on track for healthy workplace culture by implementing strategies to validate and support your employee’s mental health, reduce the stigma against treatment, and form a more inclusive environment for your business to thrive.


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