Mental Health In The Workplace – Why It Matters, And How To Help?

stressed employee talking with HR manager

by Sophia Young, owner of Content Studio and HRHQ contributor

Making sure your employees are as healthy as they can be is one of the best ways you can both support your team as well as your company. While most employers seem to only focus on the physical health of their human resources, an employees , their mental health is just as important. 

In recent years, employees have reported experiencing work-related stress, burnout, and work disengagement, affecting not only their workplace performance but their overall wellbeing and quality of life. A negative work environment can have serious effects on an employee’s mental and physical health, and can even create or exacerbate substance or alcohol abuse and mental health disorders. 

Why Care About Mental Health in the Workplace?

Employees who feel good emotionally and mentally have more positive dispositions in the workplace. They are more adaptable, flexible, and resilient when carrying out their responsibilities and maybe even beyond that. They are less likely to be adverse to challenges as well. When your people’s mental health is thriving,  they can be more engaging and make meaningful contributions to their teams. 

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On the flip side, employees who struggle with poor mental health would have a more complicated time in the workplace. They would struggle with their productivity and performance, finding it challenging to find resilience and confidence in their work. This could also lead to poor decision-making due to lack of impulse control and unhealthy thoughts. Communication also becomes a challenge which could lead to misinterpretations and negative attitudes. 

Employee engagement will be challenging too when employees lack focus and motivation due to poor mental health. An employee’s physical capability and daily functioning will also be affected. Employees who are struggling with their mental health would find that cognitive performance may be low, their working memory not functioning properly, and their daily tasks and routines feel too much.

Having a healthier workplace environment for your employees also helps reduce employee turnover rates. In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers across the globe experienced “The Great Resignation,” a phenomenon wherein employees resigned from their current places of work mostly due to burnout and feeling disengaged from their work. The strain of the demands of keeping up with work while dealing with a global pandemic took a toll on a lot of people’s mental health, pushing them to seek better work conditions elsewhere.

Risk factors that can harm employees’ mental health

Creating, maintaining, and improving systems that support your employees’ mental health is imperative. These risk factors, if not addressed, can prove harmful to employees’ mental health.

1. Insufficient health and safety policies

Should employees’ safety or health be compromised and they cannot turn to their employers for help, this could leave their problems unaddressed or untreated. This can prove detrimental to their well-being and can snowball as to how they contribute as employees. 

2. Poor management, leadership practices, and workplace communication

If the people in leadership fail to cultivate a culture that supports the well-being of their employees, then it is more likely that they will feel overworked and undervalued. Miscommunication in the workplace could be aggravated due to poor management as well.

3. Disengagement between the employee and their tasks or responsibilities

Employees who have no clear tasks or objectives often feel disengaged from their work. They also feel like they are stationary in their position, not feeling excited about the future of their career. 

4. Inflexible or extreme working hours

When employees are unable to establish a work-life balance, this can easily aggravate stress and anxiety. This can also greatly contribute to burnout. Something as simple as paid holidays are essential to freshen one’s mind.

How to Nurture Mental Health in the Workplace

A healthy workplace that respects boundaries and supports mental health and safety can be an incredible way to ensure a tiptop company. Nurturing mental health can be a two-pronged approach. 

Promote Mental Health Awareness

  1. Have a competent and sensitive HR department, as HR holds the power to define workplace culture, it is vital to have a department that understands the importance of mental health. Some employees may not be aware of how much their mental health is suffering until they experience burnout or a breakdown and it is better to prevent rather than cure.
  2. Organize corporate events and seminars on mental health from a licensed professional–Provide your employees with the tools to better understand their own mental health. 
  3. Creating an open communication line with HR. Employees need to know that they can come to the HR department and they will be supported in taking care of their health. This can also foster better communication between employees as well. 

Intervention and Support

  1. Employee Assistance Program (EAP)–This program can assist employees with personal or work-related problems that may be hurting their job performance or well-being.
  2. Providing actual Safe Spaces for employees to retreat for personal time off (PTO)–The creation of these physical and abstract spaces can help support and build boundaries when it comes to work-life balance
  3. Providing concrete employee mental health support–Establish systems to support proactive acts like mental health breaks. Should an employee seek professional help, HR can help them have access to therapists.
  4. Increasing Employee involvement–Employees who feel more integrated into their work and their responsibilities can develop a stronger sense of purpose. 
  5. Career development programs–Encourage employees to succeed by providing concrete steps they can take to advance their careers. Provide constructive feedback on employee performance and support their drive for success.

Employee Mental Health and the Company’s Success

An employee’s mental health isn’t an isolated personal issue and the workplace can have a big impact on alleviating mental health problems. Creating a healthy work environment equates to healthy employees that perform optimally and provide the best results for the company. 

About the author

Sophia Young recently quit a non-writing job to finally be able to tell stories and paint the world through her words. She can also easily kick ass with a thousand-word article about the latest marketing and business trends, finance-related topics, and can probably even whip up a nice heart-warming article about family life. Sophia also loves talking about fashion, weddings and travel