Ways to Proactively Combat Mental Health Issues in the Workplace

Do you have employees who are depressed, anxious or addicted to alcohol or drugs? If so, do you know what to do?

In 2015, the American Psychological Association reported that a quarter of surveyed employees felt some level of depression or anxiety. These mental health issues can adversely affect a company through absenteeism, presenteeism (the employee is at work, but not productive), and turnover and training costs for replacement workers.

Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which help employees who are experiencing stressful situations. Employees and family members can call for advice from a nurse or get basic legal, adoption or elder care assistance and referrals. Unfortunately, employees often do not seek assistance through the program even though their employer usually covers all the costs.

Deloitte Center for Health Solutions suggests that employers must be more proactive and should create a culture to manage mental health wellness proactively.

In 2016, the National Council for Behavioral Health adapted an Australian mental health-training program for American employees and started training managers. The program creates a culture attuned to employee well-being. Managers learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of anxiety, depression and other common mental health disorders. The idea is not to turn the managers into clinicians, but to train them as an early warning system.

In another study, the University of South Wales reported that when managers are trained to communicate regularly with employees who are home because of illness, the employees returned to work more quickly. University representatives found that manager training was cost effective and estimated that employers received $10 for every $1 spent on training by reducing work-related absences.

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