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Mental Health in the Workplace, it’s Time to Make it a Priority.

Mental Health in the workplace is a real thing, the question is how will you handle it? Mental health disorders are among the most burdensome health concerns in the United States.  Many people with mental health disorders also need care for other physical health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, respiratory illness, and disorders that affect muscles, bones and joints.

Employers for many years now have made it a priority to implement healthy workplaces.  Those healthy workplaces however often revolve around healthy eating, exercise, and sleep.  Those programs focus on the body, with the idea that a healthy body can be at work, and accomplish more while at work.  It is the mind however that neither the employer or the employee want to talk about.

Workplace wellness programs can identify those at risk and connect them to treatment and put in place supports to help people reduce and manage stress.  By addressing mental health issues in the workplace, employers can reduce health care costs for their business and employees.

Poor Mental Health and Stress can negatively affect employees:

  • Job Performance and productivity
  • Engagement with one’s work
  • Communication with coworkers
  • Physical capability and daily functioning

Depression interferes with a person’s ability to complete physical job tasks about 20% of the time and reduces cognitive performance about 35% of the time.  Think about that statistic for a moment and ask yourself, in your line of business can you risk an employee who is not functioning at 100%?

The Workplace is an optimal setting to create a culture of health because:

  • Communication structures are already in place.
  • Programs and polices come from a central team.
  • Social support networks are available.
  • Employers can offer incentives to reinforce healthy behaviors.
  • Employers can use data to track progress and measure the effects.

Action Steps Employers can take:

  • Make mental health self-assessment tools available to all employees.
  • Offer health insurance with no or low out of pocket costs for depression medications and mental health counseling.
  • Distribute materials, such as brochures, fliers, and videos, to all employees about the signs and symptoms of poor mental health and opportunities for treatment.
  • Create and maintain dedicated, quiet spaces for relaxation activities.
  • Give employees opportunities to participate in decisions about issues that affect job stress.

How can JFS help you?

  • Offer clinical screenings for depression, followed by directed feedback and clinical referral when appropriate.
  • Provide lifestyle coaching, counseling, or self-management programs.
  • Host seminars or workshops that address depression and stress management techniques, like mindfulness, breathing exercises, and meditation, to help employees reduce anxiety and stress to improve focus and motivation.
  • Provide managers with training to help them recognize the signs and symptoms of stress and depression in team members and encourage them to seek help from qualified mental health professionals.

Making employee mental health a priority and creating a workplace with a positive work/ home life balance will likely lead to less turnover, more productivity, and lower operating costs.  For more information visit the resources provided in this article or contact JFS at (570) 344-1186.


References and resources:

Workplace Mental Health, all you need to know (for now) / Tom Oxley/ TEDxNorwitchED


Mental Health in the Workplace

JFS Counseling Services