Mental Health Strategies in The Workplace
Not only does it bring us income, but the workplace can allow us to feel productive and be good for our self-esteem. When we are mentally healthy, we are better able to work productively but when we are struggling with our mental health, it can have a significant impact on our ability to work and relate to others in the workplace. On the other hand, work can also have a negative impact on our mental health. For instance, overwhelming amounts of work-related stress can lower our productivity and increase short- and long-term absences.
When a mental health condition is affecting our work, it’s common for people to feel ashamed, worried about their absence being an issue, and even worried about getting fired. If a mental health condition is starting to affect your work, you and your manager can work together to find a reasonable accommodation so you can still perform the essential duties of your job.
The number one health threat that impacts American workplaces is mental health. Billions of dollars are lost due to diminished productivity, presenteeism, and medical care. Many employers are uncomfortable dealing with employee mental health issues and may only do so as mandated by laws such as the Americans with Disabilities Act or ADA. The reality is however that most employees will at some point in their tenure struggle with the mental health issue. As such what can employers do to manage such conditions effectively humanely and legally?
According to a researcher, a three-pronged approach is most effective at managing this challenge. The three steps are prevention intervention and accommodation. From a purely legal compliance perspective, the ADA mandates certain action steps that meanwhile some degree of intervention and accommodation. Generally, employers are not required to improve workplace conditions to boost employee mental health. However, with the associated excessive costs of mental health disorders are comprehensive strategy makes good business sense to support employee mental Wellness.
As the adage goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventive actions may cost the least and have the greatest positive impact on both employees and the bottom line. Prevention includes:
- Analyze workplace practices and environmental issues that may unnecessarily stress employees,
- Eliminate policies and expectations of workers that lead to burnout,
- Fostering a culture of Wellness that includes policies and resources that boost employees’ personal physical and emotional resilience through nutrition physical fitness and rest,
- Also, positive relationship development between workers to engage them and provide meaningful workplace support,
- Training employees and especially managers to recognize signs of stress and effective ways to manage them.
The second action step is intervention. Intervention efforts are needed for issues that arise during employment and may include:
- Policies that provide employees with time and resources to self-care and ask for help,
- Health and welfare benefits to provide employees a foundation of support for personal,
- Issues workflow analysis and redesign to identify and mitigate structural problems,
- Managers who are trained to identify employees in distress and how to respond appropriately; this applies equally to themselves and to the individuals they supervise.
The third action step is accommodation. Accommodation of mental health issues includes steps mandated by the ADA, as well as optional action steps that may improve employee performance even if it is not covered by ADA:
- First, an essential element is a leadership that supports appropriate disclosure and reasonable accommodation to support employees’ ability to continue working as they manage their mental health challenges. Leadership support will allow a workplace culture that makes it safe for employees to disclose their accommodation needs appropriately.
- Interactive discussions with employees as mandated by the Americans with disabilities act to identify reasonable accommodations that enable the employee to continue working.
These action steps are a brief overview of tactics cited and research articles; by no means is it all-inclusive. In no way is it appropriate for employers to attempt to diagnose or define treatments for an employee’s health condition. Seek professional medical guidance, as necessary. The point of all this is to understand that most people in your workplace don’t know how to properly help you. Only you know what’s going to work for you and by you sharing these things with the people around you, you can make their life easier while certainly improving your working situation.