Part 1 - Why is mental health important in the workplace?

Updated: Jun 24, 2019

Apart from the obvious answer to this question: It is important to look after one another.

Having a workplace that is aware and supportive of its’ employees’ mental health can have a wide impact on factors that you might not have ever considered. Each factor can make a massive difference in your business, and when taking all of them into account it could be the difference between your business succeeding or failing. Each year, businesses incur massive costs because they aren’t dealing with workplace issues and are losing productivity to decreasing mental health in their business.

But it is so much more than just monetary costs these businesses are carrying, other factors can also be negatively affected, which include:

- Staff culture

- Staff engagement

- Staff loyalty

- Productivity across the board

- Sick leave

- Staff turnover

- Work satisfaction

- Client satisfaction

How to spot declining mental health in an employee

Mental health issues are difficult to approach in an environment where it’s not openly discussed in an encouraging way. It is important to be able to see changes in employees and be proactive in providing support rather than waiting for them to ask for help. There are many warning signs, but you may notice one or more of the following with a decrease in mental health:

- Obvious and prolonging feelings of sadness or discouragement

- Problems with sleep; too much or not at all

- Less interactions with colleagues, friends and family

- Lesser commitment to work and work performance

- Less emotional stability

- A steep increase in sick days due to physical problems

- An increase in issues in the home and/or work environment

- Increased usage of drugs, alcohol or medications

If you notice some of these in one of your colleagues or employees, it is important to show empathy and care, rather than judgement.

What are the leading causes of declining mental health in a workplace?

Mental Health can decline because of the workplace of an employee and as an employer it is important to recognise this. Of course, employers are not to blame if somebody develops depression or another mental illness, but they can help in avoiding it or at least not adding to it.

Some simple things that can be considered by an employer are:

- Creating suitable health and safety policies

- Strong leadership and management (through ongoing training and reviews)

- Suitable communication

- Autonomy for employees where appropriate and required

- Suitable support for employees

- Flexibility in work hours

- Clear tasks, goals and objectives for employees

Isolation, lack of autonomy, and overworking are the leading causes for stress in the workplace and should all be avoided. Often, more than one employee is negatively affected at a time when these prerequisites aren’t met.

It is easy to see why it is important to focus on mental health in the workplace and in Part 2 of this series, we focus on how to create a workplace that values mental health.

Being bossed is an attitude in life. It’s time to be bossed.

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