May is Mental Health Awareness Month — a time for all of us to think about and bring awareness to the well-being of those we live and work with every day.
Employee mental health has been a huge issue for employers for several years, but especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five adults experiences a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year, and 10 million adults in America live with a serious mental illness.
The pandemic’s effects on worker well-being continues to disrupt the workplace. According to the 2022 Gallup World Poll, stress among workers worldwide is at an all-time high. In the most recent Gallup poll, 44% of workers reported that they experienced significant stress the previous day and more than one-fifth experienced significant anger or sadness the previous day, according to data collected from more than 160 countries throughout 2021.
Reports of anxiety, depression and substance abuse in the workplace have been on the rise over the last several years, as well, and the pandemic played a large part in exposing the impact work can have on individuals’ overall well-being.
“Employees in certain industries are at a higher risk for mental health issues due to the workplace, such as healthcare workers and those in the hospitality industry,” said AmTrust Financial, one of the nation’s largest writers of all types of commercial insurance for small businesses. “These industries can be challenging due to the fast pace and stressful situations workers often experience.”
For Mental Health Month this year, the Mental Health America (MHA) is encouraging individuals to look around and look within. “From your neighborhood to genetics, many factors come into play when it comes to mental health conditions.” Encourage everyone — especially your employees and coworkers — to consider how the world around them affects their mental health.
Here are a few things that the MHA recommends for employers to do to help improve employee mental health at the workplace:
Ensure supervisors understand how to support employees emotionally. When employees feel they can discuss stressful situations with their supervisors, the workplace becomes a healthier environment.
Provide resources for mental health support. A safe workplace is strongly associated with resources offered for emotional support, such as accessing insurance benefits.
Take a closer look at workplace culture. Is leadership considering employee feedback on issues? Identify areas that could use improvement within the company culture, which should reflect the organization’s mission and values.
Watch for employee burnout. Employers should understand the signs of burnout and offer flexibility as needed.
Remove the stigma of mental illness. No one should feel alone when struggling with mental health conditions. Employers should assess their mental health practices and work to create a welcoming environment for all employees.
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