Nearly one in five people in the US live with a mental health condition and it’s estimated that only around 17 percent of the population lives their daily life in optimal mental health. With these staggering statistics, it’s difficult to explain why mental health in the workplace is rarely recognized or addressed.
There is a positive side to things though. Recently, there have been more nationwide campaigns working towards the end of the negative stigma surrounding mental health. Increasingly, mental health is being considered as important as physical health. Also, the workforce is changing. Employees today are more likely to work for an employer who is taking steps to address wellness and mental health in the workplace.
Possible Mental Health Programs to Implement
Programs that focus on wellness and mental health in the workplace can range from cost-saving to elaborate. Here are a few programs that have been used effectively as recruiting tools.
- Paid Time Off (PTO): PTO can be used in a variety of ways to support employees’ mental health. Improving mental health can come from increasing the number of days off, allowing employees to use a day to volunteer, or encouraging employees to use their time off to pursue a creative endeavor. Although there is a cost associated with this strategy, these employees are more likely to come back to work refreshed and ready to work.
- Active Team Building: Many departments have team building events to help strengthen the corporate culture and learn how to work as a team. Team building activities that are active in nature, while being inclusive of all ability levels, can also lead to an improvement in mental health. Not only can the endorphins that come from exercising boost mental health, but you can also foster a sense of connection with these team building activities.
- Classes: There is a range of classes that can support mental health. Yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can be effective at reducing stress and anxiety. Workouts with trainers can have a similar effect. Even if companies don’t have large gyms on-site, many classes can be held in a large conference room. Another route is finding group rates or discounts to nearby facilities (or covering the cost for the employees). You could also offer a subscription to a meditation or mental health app.
- On-site Clinics: While this option requires a significant investment, companies with on-site health clinics that offer physical and mental health services are sure to attract top talent. This level of dedication to health and wellness shows employees that their employers really do care.
Many of these measures are focused on prevention. There should also be services for employees who are currently struggling with mental health issues, as well as additional support for those recovering.
Benefits of Incorporating Mental Health in the Workplace
HR professionals can help influence changes in the benefits policies by demonstrating the advantages of addressing mental health in the workplace. These benefits include:
- Lower healthcare costs
- More engaged employees and lower turnover
- Ability to attract high-quality talent
- Better productivity
- Decreased absenteeism
- Stronger morale
As seen in the above programs, the initiatives don’t need to be costly in order to have an effect. Try implementing some of these strategies to create a stronger team culture and overall positive environment for employees.