Sharp Minds: 5 Ways to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 1 in 5 Canadians are experiencing mental health issues in any given year. Challenges such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder can have a significant impact in any workplace environment.
Since mental health issues account for a relatively high percentage of short- and long-term disability claims, it is in the employer’s best interest to look for proactive solutions.
Employers who take mental health seriously are willing to educate themselves and their staff about mental illness and implement positive measures to deal with issues as they arise. Employers who do these things are likely to deal with lower absenteeism, fewer disability claims and reduced staff turnover.
1. Increase Awareness for Employers, HR Professionals, and Managers
Companies can provide training for supervisors to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health issues in their staff before they result in a disability. Management should be aware of when to ask more questions and have knowledge of preventative strategies to reduce workplace stress and avoid or manage crisis situations. Frontline supervisors may have an obligation to get more information when they see changes in an employee’s behaviour or attendance.
2. Build a Supportive Culture
Training for employees should includes strategies for managing personal and workplace stressors, mental health awareness, ways to manage their own mental illnesses, and increasing sensitivity toward others dealing with personal challenges. Policies and procedures should be in place to help break down the stigma associated with mental illness, and management should be enforcing them consistently.
3. Offer Benefits
When companies offer benefits packages that include mental health support, such as coverage for counselling or other therapies, it lowers the stigma and allows employees to seek the assistance they need. They may start the process of finding help earlier and discover helpful solutions sooner. They may also be able to avoid missing work on difficult days or lost time for recovery.
4. Provide Access to Professionals
According to Ipsos Reid, 85% of people surveyed, believe people dealing with mental illness can be just as productive as those without, as long as they are receiving the supports they need. When employers help employees access the services they need, issues can be managed early on, sometimes making it possible to avoid lost time due to disability. If an employee does require time off for recovery, professional services may also help with reintegration and with helping the employer provide the necessary accommodations.
5. Be Flexible
Some companies allow flexible schedules or remote working opportunities which can help employees continue working longer even when they are managing mental health challenges. Businesses that offer health initiatives such as gym memberships may also see a positive impact on employee mental health.
Mental health issues are increasing, and they are being acknowledged and validated more often in the medical community. Hopefully, this will result in more sensitivity and willingness to support individuals with mental health needs in the workplace. While the above strategies are not all mandatory in workplaces, they can go a long way in providing a supportive environment for individuals struggling with mental health.
If you feel that you have been treated unfairly in the workplace, have been denied short- or long-term disability insurance claims related to mental illness, or have been wrongfully fired because of mental health issues, an employment lawyer can help. Employment lawyers have knowledge of previous and current proceedings directly related to your case. They can provide advice, help you with negotiations and may be able to get you the settlement you deserve.